Telangana’s ‘Medicine from the Sky’ initiative helps deliver medicines to village cut off by floods

Published : September 30, 2021 10:40 IST

Union Civil Aviation Minister Jyotiraditya Scindia (third from left) and Telangana IT Minister K.T. Rama Rao (fourth from left) during the launch of the ‘Medicine from the sky’ project in Vikarabad, Telangana, on September 11 Photo: The Hindu

The Telangana government’s groundbreaking “Medicine from the Sky” initiative witnessed its first beneficiary on September 28. A beyond visual line of sight (BVLoS) flight utilising a drone was used to deliver a payload of medicines urgently needed to treat a 16-month-old baby whose family was stuck in the hamlet of Kurthi in Telangana’s Kamareddy district.

The village had been cut off from the rest of Telangana because of heavy inflows into the Manjeera river, excess water released from Nizam Sagar dam and the incessant rains that have been battering most of Telangana because of Cyclone Gulab. Kurthi, which has a population of around 1,200, is not very accessible even in normal times with the nearest town, Bodhan, being 50 kilometres away. The bridge to the village, a low-level one, has been submerged in the swirling waters of the Manjeera.

Stricken with high fever, a stomach ache and other health complications, the baby’s family had approached health officials seeking urgent medical intervention. With the possibility of reaching the village by road impossible thanks to the floods, revenue and health officials decided to use a drone to deliver the medicines to the baby’s family. Fortunately, a person in the vicinity in the village of Banswada, who runs a photo studio, had a drone.

After a few trial runs, officials were able to fly the medicine-laden drone across the swollen Manjeera river and successfully deliver the medicines to the baby’s family. A health worker in the village received the medicines and administered them to the child. Officials also utilised the drone to deliver a fortnight’s supply of other medicines to the village.

Telangana’s “Medicine from the Sky” project, which was launched on September 11, witnessed technology and health care coming together and utilises drone technology for the quick delivery of approved medicines to far flung and remote rural areas and vulnerable communities. A first of its kind initiative in the country, it was launched by the Union Minister for Civil Aviation Jyotiraditya Scindia.

The initiative is spearheaded by the Emerging Technologies Wing of the Information Technology, Electronics & Communications (ITE&C) Department in partnership with the World Economic Forum, NITI Aayog, and HealthNet Global (Apollo Hospitals).