Over 80% of the 16 million Malawian population lives in rural areas, characterized with bad terrain and poor road networks. Floods during rainy season often cut off road access to villages, making social services such as healthcare very hard to get to people.
Every year around 10,000 children die of HIV in Malawi. In 2014, nearly 40,000 children in Malawi were born to HIV positive mothers and only 49% of children were on treatment. When people living in rural areas require taking HIV tests, it currently takes an average of 11 days to get samples from health centers to testing labs, and up to four weeks for the results to be delivered back. The transport of samples is done on motorbikes, bicycles or ambulances. The longer the delay between test and results, the higher the default rate of the patient.
FlyingThings is a project by MicroMek, a startup company that is fabricating a low-cost drone from 3D printed parts and foam board. This type of drones is locally produced and can be easily repaired if damaged.
We will use the drone for the delivery of tests, medicines and vaccines. It provides a sterile transportation chain from clinic to laboratory, and it guarantees fast, reliable and cost-effective delivery. MicroMek will work with Virginia Tech University and UNICEF to set up a delivery schedule and business model for the delivery of dried blood samples, vaccines and other critical medicines from clinics in Malawi’s humanitarian drone corridor.