Apr 14, 2018  |  Press Release

The Malawi Ministry of Health notifies the public of humanitarian drone flights beginning on April 18, 2018


The general public is hereby notified that a humanitarian drone (also called a Remote Pilot Aircraft) will be flown in Lilongwe and Dowa Districts over the period of 18th-24th April in a study to increase accessibility of medical supplies for maternal health emergencies.

The flights are being conducted by the Ministry of Health (MOH) in partnership with VillageReach, Malawi Blood Transfusion Service (MBTS), Pharmacy Medicines and Poisons Board (PMPB) and Vayu, Inc. the drone manufacturer.

The drone looks like a small plane, is white in color and 3 x 1.8 x 0.75 m in size. It will fly at 100 m above ground, between the following locations:

MBTS Lilongwe Office and Area 25 Health Centre
MBTS Lilongwe Office and Dowa District Hospital

All flights will take place on weekdays from Wednesday 18th April to Tuesday 24th April between 8 am and 5 pm. Road users around the stated locations are advised to take extra caution as the drones can be distracting.

Lilongwe and Dowa District Health Office teams are working with community leaders and stakeholders to ensure public safety during the drone flights. Community sensitizations will take place at Area 25 Health Centre and Dowa District Hospital on Tuesday, 17th April and during the week before the flights.

One of the most common causes of maternal death is obstetric hemorrhaging (bleeding during or after childbirth). Finding a quick way to transport blood for transfusions and injectable oxytocin (a medicine that reduces bleeding) could save many women’s lives. A Ministry of Health priority is to improve access to health care for pregnant and delivering women, and drones could help deliver medical supplies faster in case of emergencies.

The study will result in the development of a business case for the integration of drones in the emergency medical transport system in Malawi. The Government of Malawi has already encouraged space for exploring drone technology in the Kasungu Drone Corridor and has been a leader in the development of regulations of drones for humanitarian use. This study has received approval from the National Health Sciences Research Committee (NHRSC) and Malawi’s Department of Civil Aviation.

Funding for this work is provided by Grand Challenges Canada, which is dedicated to supporting Bold Ideas with Big Impact®. Funded by the Government of Canada and other partners, Grand Challenges Canada funds innovators in low- and middle-income countries and Canada. The bold ideas Grand Challenges Canada supports integrate science and technology, social and business innovation – known as Integrated Innovation®. One of the largest impact-first investors in Canada, and with a feminist investment approach, Grand Challenges Canada has supported a pipeline of over 800 innovations in more than 80 countries. Grand Challenges Canada estimates that these innovations have the potential to save up to 1 million lives and improve up to 28 million lives by 2030. www.grandchallenges.ca

For inquiries, please contact:

VillageReach: Charles.Matemba@villagereach.org or on 0881 410 045
Ministry of Health on 01 789 400
National Health Science Research Committee (NHSRC) on 01 789 400
Department of Civil Aviation: Hjailosi@CivilAviation.gov.mw or on 01 770 577
Dr Dan Namarika



About VillageReach

VillageReach transforms health care delivery to reach everyone, so that each person has the health care needed to thrive. We develop solutions that improve equity and access to primary health care. This includes making sure products are available when and where they are needed and primary health care services are delivered to the most under-reached. Radical collaboration with governments, the private sector and other partners strengthen our ability to scale and sustain these solutions. Our work increases access to quality health care for 46 million people in sub-Saharan Africa.

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