Vaccines Delivered From the Skies

Егемен Қазақстан
24.12.2018 285

By Donald G. McNeil Jr.

Public outreach is part of a vaccine delivery program in Vanuatu. A demonstration on the island of Epi. (Jason Chute/Unicef Pacific)

In the village of Cook’s Bay, on the remote side of the remote island of Erromango, in the remote South Pacific nation of Vanuatu, 1-month-old Joy Nowai was given shots for hepatitis and tuberculosis that were delivered by a drone.

It was the first vial of vaccine ever delivered that way in Vanuatu, which is the only country in the world to make its childhood vaccine program officially drone-dependent.

Vanuatu is an archipelago of 83 volcanic islands. Many villages are reachable only by “banana boats,” single-engine skiffs that three-and-a-half-meter waves sometimes roll over or smash into cliffs. Other villages are at the end of mountain footpaths that become bogs when it rains. Many vaccines need refrigeration, and most villages have no electricity.

For those reasons, about 20 percent of Vanuatu’s 35,000 children under age 5 do not get all their shots, according to the United Nations.

So Vanuatu, with help from Unicef, the Australian government and the Global Fund to Fight AIDS, Tuberculosis and Malaria, began its drone program on December 17.

As drones have improved, their potential uses in global health have increased.

Zipline, a California company, has piloted more than 8,000 flights over Rwanda, delivering blood for transfusions.

Since last year, Unicef has run a “drone test corridor” in Malawi to test delivery of humanitarian supplies.

But this is the first commercial contract for routine childhood vaccines. Swoop Aero, an Australian start-up, will be paid only for shipments that arrive safely, Unicef said.

Miriam Nampil, the 55-year-old nurse who gave the shots in Cook’s Bay, lives in Port Narvin, whose clinic has a solar-powered refrigerator.

“This drone will change my life,” she said. “Normally, I must trek about two hours over the mountain each way, and the vaccine carriers are heavy.”

With its wingspan of two and a half meters, the white Swoop drone resembles a robot albatross. But it lacks that bird’s calm, floating flight pattern.

Instead, it shrieks with the buzz of a disturbed hornets’ nest as it shoots straight up in the air and zooms off at speeds of up to 95 kilometers an hour.

The drone will soon be doing 130-kilometer round trips, said Eric Peck, one of Swoop’s founders. Because it communicates with the Iridium satellite network, it can be piloted from anywhere in the world.

Eventually, he said, Swoop will train local pilots and help the government build its own drones by attaching mail-order engines to wings that can be produced on a 3-D printer.

To introduce Vanuatu’s drone era, nurses are meeting local villagers, and national aviation officials invite them to watch test flights.

“We need to make sure people aren’t spooked by a buzzing thing in the sky descending on them,” said Sheldon Yett, Unicef’s Pacific islands representative. “We want to make sure some kid with a catapult doesn’t shoot it down.”

 

© 2018 New York Times News Service

LATEST

16.01.2019

Education Ministry posts new online Kyrgyz language courses

16.01.2019

Turkey donates military equipment to Gambia

16.01.2019

Eni to further increase production optimization activity in Turkmenistan

16.01.2019

Over 140 public services to be transferred to electronic format in 2019 — Dinara Shcheglova

16.01.2019

Astana Opera prepares for Eugene Onegin premiere

15.01.2019

Kazakh President send a telegram of congratulations to Nikol Pashinyan

15.01.2019

Biometric parameters can replace electronic signatures for receiving some public services

15.01.2019

Government considers measures to ensure product safety: Quality control enhanced

15.01.2019

Kazakh PM instructs to improve quality of public services in electronic format

15.01.2019

​Kazakh Foreign Minister Holds Bilateral Meetings with Central Asian Foreign Ministers

15.01.2019

Kazakh cenbank holds rate, may hike in March

15.01.2019

Mongolia to hold Spring Golden Eagle Festival in March to boost tourism

15.01.2019

New captain of Kazakhstan men's boxing team selected

15.01.2019

Malaysian company intends to create fish farming cluster in Uzbekistan

15.01.2019

Unified E-Shanyraq system to increase transparency of work of housing cooperatives and charging of services — Zhienbayev

15.01.2019

Resource savings from installing house heat meters amounted to 30-40% — Housing and Communal Services

14.01.2019

Kazakh President send a telegram of condolences to the family of Greco-Roman wrestling coach Vadim Psarev

14.01.2019

Nikol Pashinyan appointed Armenia PM

14.01.2019

Meeting of the Government of Kazakhstan to be held Jan. 15 in Ukimet Uyi

14.01.2019

Executive director of FC Astana appointed

COLUMNISTS

Aliya Ashim, Journalist

Brazil’s version of Trump: why is it a «wake-up call» for the world?

<p style="text-align: justify;">A racist, a homophobe, a misogynist, a pro-torturer. Because of the profane outbursts and verbal abuse, he has earned such an image and was even considered as a political clown. Once he insulted lawmaker claiming that she was too ugly to be worth of raping. What is more, he said that he’d rather have a dead son than a gay one. Therefore, analysts concluded that Brazil has elected the most extremist president among democratic countries. So why did Brazil decide to make «really radical shift»? How did such an «extreme» and «unpleasant» figure become a president?<br /> </p>

Jylkybay Jagyparuly,

Mechanical engineering is a potential pillar of the economy

In industrialized countries, one of the most important indicators of the economy is the level of development of the machine-building industry. Independent Kazakhstan, striving to achieve ambitious goals, is making great efforts to develop machine building in the process of diversifying its economy.

Alisultan Kulanbay,

June 4 - Day of State Symbols of Kazakhstan

State symbols - the State Flag, State Anthem and State Emblem demonstrate to the world the independence of the Republic of Kazakhstan, also continuity between the past, the present and the future of the state.

Ainash ESALI,

Is it all good that they advertise?

Advertising is the driving force of production and business. This is an indisputable fact.

Nazira RAKHMANKYZY, Film critic

Splash of commercial films in Kazakhstan

Last year, the number of feature films which filmed reached thirty-six in Kazakhstan. We should say that it is an unprecedented figure in the history of Kazakh cinema in the last quarter century.

Comments(0)

ADD A COMMENT