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Quadcopters to Bhutan’s health-care rescue?

It may not be a distant dream to see tiny “unmanned quadcopters” play a major role in Bhutan’s healthcare. Lyonchhoen Tshering Tobgay said that it was being discussed “how quadcopters could take tele-medicine in Bhutan to the next level by using the unmanned devices to deliver vital medicine.” He also posted a message on social media that said the devices could also pick up samples – blood, urine and others – from basic healthcare units.

The country’s mountainous terrain has always posed a problem in delivering health care services especially to those living in the remote, rural parts. Therefore to tackle this problem, the authorities in liaison with the World Health Organisation (WHO), has been looking at the potential for tele-medicine – using mobiles and the internet to allow doctors at the larger hospitals carry out check-ups remotely and for medical records and x-rays to be emailed back to patients.

The company which deals with the quad copters is Matternet, a California-based technology start-up company that claims it is creating the “next paradigm for transportation” using a network of unmanned aerial vehicles.

The company, whose backers include Fadi Ghandour, the founder of the Aramex logistics company and who also heads a technology investment fund, has previously conducted trials of its unmanned vehicles in Haiti and the neighboring Dominican Republic. It says its primary focus is how the 4lb vehicles could be used in a healthcare environment.

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