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Drones To Deliver Vaccines In Vanuatu

Trial Could Revolutionize Healthcare For Isolated Pacific Islanders

The government of Vanuatu has signed agreements with two companies for a demonstration project to delivery vaccines to 39 remote villages in the country.

The vaccines are temperature sensitive, and often take days to deliver to remote villages in the island nation. There are 83 islands in the Vanuatuan archipelago spread over about 500 square miles. Only about a third of the country is accessable by road or air, according to a report appearing in The Guardian.

Unicef has played a leading role in facilitating the trials. While the test flights were described as "hugely exciting" by Unicef field office chief Andrew Parker, they also carried significant risk. The drones could be lost at sea or might alarm local people not accustomed to seeing such technology. The terrain on many of the islands is mountainous, and it is subject to tropical storms and high winds.

Unicef and government staff has spend a lot of time working with people to make them comfortable with them taking off and landing in their villages. While there is optimism, Parker said that there are still a lot of questions to be answered, including are they reliable for deliveries, will they be able to land where they are needed, and will the local populations accept them?

Parker said if the vaccine test is successful, the trials could be expanded to delivery of blood and other medical supplies.

FMI: Source report

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