Blood transfusion is one of most critical aspects of effective healthcare, but human-donated blood has a shelf life and needs to be used within a particular time. Poor countries often have to devise new methods to minimise waste of such precious resources, and Rwanda has just done that when it comes to blood delivery to remote locations.
The country has outsourced much of its blood delivery to a company named Zipline, an American startup with its headquarters in California. Zipline designs, builds, and operates small drone aircraft to deliver blood across Rwanda. This is one of the first commercial applications of drone-based delivery of blood in the world.
Zipline drones serve 21 hospitals in the western half of Rwanda. Since Rwanda is not a very rich country but has a universal healthcare scheme which promises access to hospitals at affordable or no cost, the government cannot afford wastage of blood owing to an inefficient road network that hampers timely supply. A demand for blood to be delivered by drones can be made easily through email, text message, a phone call, or WhatsApp.