UAVs and Their Role in the Health Supply Chain: A Case Study from Malawi

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Lead Paragraph/Summary

Unmanned Aerial Vehicles (UAVs) – also known as drones – have proven to be an innovative mode of transporting life-saving health commodities to hard-to-reach areas. From July 2019 through February 2020, the USAID Global Health Supply Chain Program-Procurement Supply Management (GHSC-PSM) project utilized a drone to deliver diagnostic samples and results such as those for viral load, early infant diagnosis and tuberculosis to and from remote areas in Malawi. By the end of the program, GHSC-PSM had successfully flown the drone 12,250 miles during 428 flights that carried medicines, medical supplies, lab samples and test results between health facilities in Nkhata Bay and seven hard-to-reach areas such as Thotho and Chizumulu.

Lessons learned from the GHSC-PSM drone activity were recently published in the online Institute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers (IEEE) journal and presented at the 2020 International Conference on Unmanned Aircraft Systems.