Tech’s reach extends to new regions

A blood delivery system that utilizes drones has been developed in Rwanda

Photo courtesy of Stephanie Aglietti | Drones are now delivering blood to remote hospitals in Rwanda thanks to a collaboration between Zipline, a Silicon Valley company, and the health ministry of Rwanda. This development has been crucial in helping doctors treat patients in regions without quick access to medical supplies.

Zipline, a Silicon Valley company has teamed up with the health ministry of Rwanda to develop a blood delivery system via drone that cuts down delivery time from around four hours to only half an hour in the past year, according to The Guardian.

“Some of the biggest, most powerful technology companies in the world are still trying to figure out how to do this, but East Africa is showing them all the way,” Keller Rinaudo, Zipline’s co-founder and CEO, said. “The work in Rwanda has shown the world what’s possible when you make a national commitment to expand healthcare access with drones and help save lives.”

These drones have helped reduce deaths during childbirth because of how quickly they can deliver the blood to hospitals in remote areas.

“That’s kind of a relief knowing that it’s only 30 minutes instead of four hours, coming from a nursing perspective,” junior nursing major Liz Parillo said. “I think it would relieve some stress on the professional side, but I don’t know if it would relieve stress from the patient’s perspective.”

Zipline is also planning on bringing its technology to Tanzania, which would make it the largest drone delivery network in the world, according to The Guardian.

This development also means that hospitals don’t have to keep as much blood in storage, allowing for more storage for other equipment and less worry about wasting blood, which can spoil in 42 days.

“My biggest concern is just the blood sitting there and clotting in a drone,” Parillo said, “but if it’s working, it’s working.”

Parillo also expressed concerns about the drones having perfect navigation and possible confusion or mix-ups of the correct type of blood that might be needed for the patient.

There has been some criticism for the project being funded when basic amenities are not available in many places around the country. In addition, critics question the lack of information available to the public regarding how much has been spent developing this medical advancement.

Parillo agrees with these worries about money being spent on more medical advancements instead of basic infrastructure needs.

“There’s so many advancements in healthcare already that we could take a second and slow down and focus on (infrastructure),” Parillo said. “If we focus on education, maybe there is the next amazing health invention creator waiting in a school that just isn’t getting the funding that they need… I think it’s a matter of taking a step back.”

By: Kevin Thomas ~U.S. & World News Editor~