Botswana: Drone For Health Pilot Project Launched To Reduce High Rates Of Maternal Death


May 26, 2021, 11:55 a.m.

The importance of technology in healthcare must never be underrated. The capacity to be efficient, analyze data and improve health boils down to technology.

To improve healthcare, Botswana has become the first Southern African country to roll out a drone system in its healthcare delivery after Ghana and Rwanda.

The initiative is a partnership between UNFPA and Botswana’s Ministry of Health and Wellness, the Ministry of Tertiary Education, Research, Science and Technology, and the Botswana International University of Science and Technology (BIUST).

Called the Drone for Health pilot project, it focuses on delivering maternal health supplies and commodities to reduce rising maternal death. These commodities include essential obstetric care drugs, blood and blood products, and laboratory specimens on time, particularly to hard-to-reach communities and health facilities.

According to 2017 UN data, Botswana has a maternal mortality ratio that is almost double the average for upper-middle-income countries.

The main causes of maternal deaths in Botswana are postpartum hemorrhage, complications after abortion, and hypertensive disorders during pregnancy.

Beatrice Mutali, the UNFPA Country Director in Botswana speaking on the launch said that because women experience massive blood loss due to hemorrhage during childbirth, blood and blood-based products are therefore critical to reduce maternal deaths.

Dr. Edwin Gorataone Dikoloti, Botswana’s Minister of Health and Wellness also added that the initiative will bridge the time and availability gap in healthcare provision in the country.

“The need to invest in innovative options to bridge the long distances, reduce current transportation costs, overcome road infrastructure challenges, and improve timely availability of essential emergency obstetric care drugs, commodities, and supplies is therefore urgent”.

The use of drones to deliver essential medical supplies is expected to reduce the delivery time from hours to minutes, meaning that obstetric emergency supplies could arrive in time to save lives, according to BIUST Vice-Chancellor, Professor Otlogetswe Totolo.

Each battery-powered drone has a delivery distance of 100 km and can carry cargo with a weight of up to 2kg at a time.

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Verny loves to write poetry, fiction and quotes. Her love for writing landed her in journalism. She loves gadgets and travelling to explore new places.