Project Lead(s): Carla Blauvelt
Obstetric hemorrhage is the leading cause of maternal death in low-resource settings. Postpartum hemorrhaging is preventable and treatable with appropriate medication and a clean blood supply.
Unfortunately, health workers and patients in Malawi lack responsive systems to deliver the necessary medicines, supplies, and commodities.
Implemented in Malawi, VillageReach sought to address the challenge of transporting, and storing, blood and other heat sensitive products like Oxytocin.
The project developed an unmanned aerial vehicle (UAV) to deliver blood and other medical commodities. The aim of the project was to redesign the medical supply system by improving efficiency and adaptability to acute health needs.
They also conducted focus groups with key community and government stakeholders to determine the viability of the product within Malawi’s context. Along with carrying out a cost analysis.
The UAV prototype developed by VillageReach was unable to successfully complete flights between health facilities. The signal frequency of cell phones in Malawi interfered with the signal frequency of the designed UAVs. Due to technical difficulties, blood and oxytocin storage could not be tested.
The project found that communities were generally positive about using UAVs to transport emergency health projects, so long as adequate safety features were taken.
Results of the cost analysis found UAVs to be 51% more cost-effective than ground-based delivery systems.