ICMR releases guidelines for using drones in healthcare 

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The Indian Council of Medical Research on Thursday released a guidance document for use of drones in healthcare for medical supplies in far-flung areas. The research body has come up with this documents after using the drones for delivering COVID-19 vaccines in the north-eastern states of Manipur and Nagaland.

As per the guidance document, the Covid-19 vaccines and Serums with storage temperature between 2°C and 8°C, tablets and capsules, syrups in bottles, gloves, syringes, blood bags, diagnostic biological tissues, urine, blood, sputum, saliva or frozen specimens can only be transported can only be transported by drone.

“As a nation with 1.3 billion, we have faced several challenges in upgrading our healthcare system. The covid pandemic further added to this challenge but also gave us an opportunity to revisit some of the issues and fix them. With the advent of covid-19 vaccines, ICMR envisaged the delivery of these vaccines to hard-to-reach-terrains in India. This guidance document will assist in understanding different nuances involved in planning and execution of drone-based delivery of medical supplies,” Prof Dr Balram Bhargava, Director General of ICMR, has said in the foreword of the document.

The Scientists from ICMR collaborated with Ministry of Civil Aviation (MoCA), Government of India, Directorate General of Civil Aviation (DGCA), Airport Authority of India (AAI) to produce this document in compliance with the New Drone Rules-2021 which highlights the ways of selecting drones, choosing takeoffs and landing sites etc.The scope of this document covers areas such as how to obtain regulatory approvals from competent authorities for various kinds of drones and utilizing air space for delivering medical supplies restricted to medicines, vaccines and surgical materials. It also underlines the ways of selecting suitable drone models and criteria for choosing take-off and landing points for drones.