ICMR releases guidance on the use of drones in healthcare

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New Delhi: The Indian Council of Medical Research (ICMR) on Thursday released a guidance document on the use of drones in healthcare for medical supplies in remote areas. The research body came up with this document after using the drones to deliver Covid-19 vaccines to the northeastern states of Manipur and Nagaland.

In accordance with the guidance document, Covid-19 vaccines and serums with a storage temperature between 2AoC and 8AoC, tablets and capsules, syrups in vials, gloves, syringes, blood bags, biological tissues of diagnosis, urine, blood, sputum, saliva or frozen samples can only be transported by drone.

“As a nation of 1.3 billion people, we have had to face several challenges to modernize our healthcare system. The Covid pandemic has further compounded this challenge, but has also given us the opportunity to review some of the issues and address them. With the advent of Covid-19 vaccines, the ICMR considered the delivery of these vaccines to hard-to-reach land in India. This guidance document will help understand the various nuances involved in planning and executing the delivery of medical supplies by drone,” said Professor Balram Bhargava, Director General of ICMR, in the foreword to the document.

ICMR scientists collaborated with Ministry of Civil Aviation (MoCA), Government of India, Directorate General of Civil Aviation (DGCA), Airports Authority of India (AAI) to produce this document in accordance with the new drone rules-2021 which highlights the ways to select drones, choose take-off and landing sites, etc.

The scope of this document covers areas such as obtaining regulatory approvals from relevant authorities for various types of drones and the use of airspace for the delivery of medical supplies limited to drugs, vaccines and surgical equipment. . It also outlines the methods for selecting suitable drone models and the criteria for choosing take-off and landing points for drones.

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