BY AMACHA GOLI
ADJUMANI: Saturday, August 14, 2021
The Infectious Disease Institute (IDI), College of Health Science of Makerere University has launched the West Nile medical drone programme that will transport Covid-19 samples for testing to Adjumani mobile laboratory.
It is one of the 25 laboratories accredited by the Ministry of Health to conduct Polymerase chain reaction (PCR) tests for Coronavirus.
The pilot project is aimed at overcoming geographical challenges with technology and follows from the success of the medical drone project for transporting HIV/AIDS drugs that IDI launched for Kalangala district islands in April 2021.
A drone is unmanned aerial vehicle, remotely controlled through software flight planes; it has on- board sensors and global positioning system.
Gerald Aluma, the regional coordinator IDI, explained that the medical drone project will be used to transport Covid-19 samples and drugs to different health centers in the district and West Nile sub-region and provide automated medical information and follow up of data.
He said the project has been designed to complement the current sample collection and transportation system, but not to disrupt it.
“Since a drone will fly from Yumbe district to Adjumani in just seven minutes and from Moyo district in five minutes, this will save a lot of time,” he said.
Dr. Dominic Drametu, the Adjumani District Health Officer, hailed IDI for the innovation, saying that drones are fast and suitable for hard-to-reach places and will go a long way in shortening the time taken to deliver drugs and Covid-19 samples.
He called on the leaders in Adjumani and West Nile sub-region to embrace the drone technology, believing that it will help the region to succeed in containing the pandemic.
The Adjumani district chairman, Ben Anyama, assured the IDI officials on Friday that his administration will not take issues of health lightly and appealed to IDI to come up with sustainability plan so that the district will continue using drones after the end of the pilot project.
The West Nile medical drone project is funded by the United Nations Capital Development Funds, and the coordinates of the routes have already been charted for flight testing to begin on August 23, 2021.