Intricacies of medical drones in healthcare delivery: Implications for Africa

Albert Apotele Nyaaba, Matthew Ayamga*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleAcademicpeer-review

44 Citations (Scopus)

Abstract

Unmanned aerial vehicles, also known as drones, can play a critical role in delivering health care. In this paper, we reviewed the literature to ascertain (1) the various medical supplies delivered by drones, (2) the challenges to the successful use of medical drones and (3) the potential benefits of medical drones. Implications for the African context is then provided. In achieving this objective, we employed a systematic literature review methodology and defined search strings, searched for relevant literature from PubMed, Scopus and Web of Science databases following a review protocol. The snowball technique was similarly used to search for other papers as well. A total of 17 out of 69 papers were included in the review after screening and applying a quality appraisal criterion. The results indicate that blood, AEDs, drugs, vaccines, and laboratory test samples etc were identified as part of the medical supplies aerially delivered by drones. Regulations, cost, misuse (evasion of people's privacy) and psychological effect on people who experienced drones used for bombing are part of the challenges that could result from using the technology for delivery of medical supplies. The benefits derived from drones range from reducing response times during health emergencies thus helping to save more lives, to being environmentally friendly as the CO2 emissions levels are lower than conventional delivery by trucks and cars. In conclusion, drone technology has opened a new phase for the health sector and to sustain this technological innovation in Africa, there is the need for inclusive innovation to make drones safer and acceptable. This could be achieved by developing the needed policy framework with the regulators, providing other health resources to complement the use of drones, embarking on sensitizations on the usefulness of drones through cultural underpinnings of rural communities about drones and training the needed health personnel to handle dispatches of medical supplies with drones.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)101624
JournalTechnology in Society
Volume66
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - Aug 2021

Keywords

  • Aerial delivery
  • Africa
  • Drones
  • Health emergencies
  • Medical supplies
  • Transport

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