Vanuatu tests drones for vaccine supply to remote areas

Update: 4:01PM DRONES are being tested for the first time in the Pacific to evaluate its capacity, efficiency and effectiveness in delivering lifesaving vaccines to inaccessible remote communities in Vanuatu.

The Vanuatu government and the United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF) today announced the selected participants who will participate in the first phase of the drone trial next month.

“To ensure consistent availability of vital supplies at health facilities is an ongoing challenge for Vanuatu due to geography, logistics and high costs,” said Vanuatu’s Ministry of Health director general George Taleo.

“This trial is an important step in exploring options for dealing with some of these challenges to providing health care to these vulnerable communities.”

The director of Vanuatu’s Civil Aviation Authority Joseph Niel said the first phase was a technical trial and findings from this would be vital in informing other parts of the trial.

The six self-funded candidates will travel to Vanuatu next month from countries, including the United States, United Kingdom, Israel and Australia to demonstrate the performance of their drones.

The first phase of the drone trial will run from August 21-25.

Drone participants will take off from the old Takara airstrip on North Efate flying over the offshore islands of Emao, Pele and Nguna and drop off a package at a cordoned off area aiming to hit ‘bulls eye’ in Undine Bay, a proposed distance of 54km.  

The drone will then return to land in Takara.

This initiative is led by Vanuatu’s Ministry of Health and Ministry of Infrastructure and Public Utilities with technical and financial support from UNICEF.

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