Health Sector – UHC, National Health Policy, Family Planning, Health Insurance, etc.

Medicine from the Sky Project


From UPSC perspective, the following things are important :

Prelims level: Medicine from the Sky Project

Mains level: Innovation in healthcare services

The Telangana government has selected 16 primary healthcare centres (PHCs) spread around Vikarabad area hospital for pilot testing the ambitious ‘Medicine from the sky’, the first-of-its-kind project involving delivery of medicines through multiple drones.

Medicine from the Sky Project

  • A consortium of seven operators headed by Blue Dart Med-Express had been selected for the project to be launched in the VLOS range of 500 metres initially and will be scaled up gradually to a 9 km range.
  • The selected PHCs are both within the Visual Line of Sight (VLOS) and Beyond Visual Line of Sight (BVLOS) range.
  • The project would be launched in three waves starting with a pilot followed by mapping the route network for the operation of drones for delivering vaccine/medicine in the desired community health centres and PHCs.
  • The project is being launched following the approval granted by the Civil Aviation Ministry to the request made by the State to grant conditional exemption from the Unmanned Aircraft System Rules 2021.

Benefits of the project

  • The project is aimed at assessing alternative logistics route in providing safe, accurate and reliable pickup and delivery of health care items like medicines, vaccines, units of blood and other lifesaving equipment from the distribution centre to a specific location and back.
  • The model, once successful, would enable deliveries from district medical stores and blood banks to PHCs, CHCs and further from PHCs/CHCs to central diagnostic laboratories.

Back2Basics: What is VLOS (Visual Line of Sight)?

  • Visual Line of Sight (‘VLOS’) operations are a type of operation in which the remote pilot maintains continuous, unaided visual contact with the unmanned aircraft. In its simplest term, the aircraft must always be visible to the pilot.
  • This allows the remote pilot to control the flight path of the unmanned aircraft in relation to other aircraft, people, and obstacles for the purpose of avoiding collisions.
  • Extended Visual Line of Sight operations (‘EVLOS’) allows flight Beyond Visual Line of Sight of the Remote Pilot by using ‘trained observers’.
  • Trained observers are used to comply with the separation and collision avoidance responsibilities of the operator.
  • ‘Beyond Visual Line of Sight’ operations is where the flying of a drone is without  a pilot maintaining a visual line of sight on the aircraft at all times.
  • Instead, the pilot operates the UAV using Remote Pilot Station (RPS) / Ground Control Station (GCS) instruments.

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