Rwanda establishes world’s first on-demand blood transfusion delivery system via drone

Rwanda establishes world’s first on-demand blood transfusion delivery system via drone

This new service now caters to around 6 million Rwandans through 21 hospitals nationwide

Technological journalism often suffers from an excess of optimism, painting a bright future that in the end never comes to fruition. This time, however, there are many motives for optimism, since we are talking about a tangible reality
that it is changing Rwanda’s present. On October 2016, Rwanda’s health minister kick started an experimental blood delivery system via autonomous drones. This idea was not a mere tech-fueled PR stunt, for it is a solution that makes
perfect sense for Rwanda, whose rural communities are often inaccessible and located on hilly terrain.

After its first year on service, the Rwandan government now considers this initiative to be a “total success”: Last year, they managed to deliver a total of 5,500 units of blood, reaching their destination within 45 minutes to 4 hours, a
vital factor considering that time is gold when it comes to blood transfusions. This whole operation has been possible thanks to the partnership between the Rwanda’s government and the tech startup Zipline, or the “Uber for blood”, as
they call it. Zipline will now expand their life saving services in neighboring Tanzania, which seems like a good start for this brand-new year 2018.