The Chinese government is piloting ways to incorporate drones into their response to the coronavirus – including the transport of medical samples, the delivery of essential goods, and using aerial spray to disinfect areas.
According to law firm Cliffe Dekker Hofmeyr, South Africa already has precedent in using drone technology for medical purposes as the South African National Blood Service (SANBS) launched a new drone-based blood delivery system to help deliver blood to people in rural areas in May 2019.
Its purpose is to reduce the cost and time it takes to deliver blood. The program is in the process of being piloted in Eastern Cape, Northern Cape, and KwaZulu-Natal.
The long-term prospects of the program see it expanding nationwide, making drone technology the standard in the healthcare system in South Africa.
From Business Tech.
However, some nine months after the project launch, it appears as though SANBS has not yet been granted a license to operate.
“The CAA is very strict about whom they give the license to, and everyone has to go through the process. It’s not just about being granted a license, it’s also about going through the right regulatory procedures and certifications of compliance. Once this has been achieved, we will see the real impact of our return on investment by the number of lives saved,” the SANBS said.
This shows that more can be done to relax regulations – especially in a time of emergency, said Cliffe Dekker Hofmeyr.
“As is apparent from SANBS’s drone-based blood delivery program, South Africa’s healthcare industry is fully capable of using drones for aerial sprays of disinfectant, to transport medical samples and to deliver essential goods in the time of the Covid-19 crisis,” Cliffe Dekker Hofmeyr said.
“The real issue seems to lie in the time it takes the Civil Aviation Authority to grant the requisite license.”
The firm noted that during a national disaster, where time is of the essence, additional formalities and authorizations to comply with the regulations, together with the hefty cost restraints, act as hindrances to the swift and successful utilization of this technology.
Read more at Business Tech.