In Mozambique, with funding from the Frontier Technology Livestreaming and DFID Mozambique, we are conducting the project “Introducing UAS for Tuberculosis Sample Transport in Mozambique”. We are exploring how unmanned aerial systems (UASs) can impact both the availability of and turnaround time for tuberculosis laboratory services at the last mile. This work represents an opportunity to shape how UAS are used for strengthening laboratory networks and the creation of an enabling environment for introducing a UAS will occur through stakeholder engagement at all levels – from government officials to health facility workers to community members. The Phase 1 of the project aims to create an enabling environment for safe, effective use of UAS in Mozambique, and to generate evidence necessary to define the use cases that maximize the efficacy and impact of this technology and determine the scope of future phases. Specific objectives of our work in Mozambique include:
- Demonstrate repeated safe transport of sputum samples between health facilities TB testing capabilities and hard-to-reach rural health facilities
- Test sputum sample quality in order to document any safety concerns associated with movement of sputum sample by UAV
- Document costs, time comparison, and benefits of a UAV supported TB sample transport system to accelerate TB diagnostic
- Identify best use cases to use UAVs for TB sample transport and develop system of integrating into the supply chain system
- Start identify potential business model for sustaining the use of UAVs for laboratory sample transport
- Assess staff and community knowledge and attitudes towards UAV use.