Airborne Drones Could Provide Innovative Method Of Delivering Food, Medicines

In a Foreign Policy opinion piece, former U.S. Ambassador Jack Chow, who served as a special representative for HIV/AIDS under former Secretary of State Colin Powell and currently is a professor at Carnegie Mellon’s Heinz College of Public Policy, examines the challenges of delivering humanitarian aid and how “[t]he technological versatility of airborne drones, the flying robots that are already transforming warfare, … has the potential to revolutionize how humanitarian aid is delivered worldwide.” He describes the work of several start-up companies looking to employ drones for such a purpose, saying “waves of aid drones might quickly deliver a peaceful ‘first strike’ capacity of food and medicines to disaster areas.”

Chow says drones could be used to quickly deliver emergency vaccines in the event of a disease outbreak, transport antiretroviral medications to areas that experience stock-outs, or provide “real-time” information on disaster-affected regions. “Imagine: Instead of traditional government-to-government models of aid delivery, ridden with inefficiencies and corruption, drones could provide the basis for group-to-group networks of aid delivery, thus building communities rather than bolstering bad rulers,” he writes. Though “there are risks” — such as drones being targeted for attack in conflict situations — “[w]ith their powerful sensors, aid drones could validate deliveries, help promote transparency, and build trust. A new means of softening the impacts of disaster and disease could even help to stabilize good governments,” Chow says, concluding that “future ‘drone-lifts’ could become potent weapons in the fight against hunger and disease” (4/27).

The KFF Daily Global Health Policy Report summarized news and information on global health policy from hundreds of sources, from May 2009 through December 2020. All summaries are archived and available via search.

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