UNICEF Tests Drones to Speed Up HIV Testing in Malawi

Apr 21, 2016 09:33 AM EDT

For the past years, the drone flying industry has proven that it can be of use to many. From delivery systems to aerial photography, today, even scientists are interested in what these technological advancements can offer.

In Malawi in Africa, researchers are testing the use of drones to speed up the process of human immunodeficiency virus (HIV) testing for babies.

Due to restrictions in modes of transportation, high cost of mobile transport, poor road conditions and other debilitating factors, HIV testing in Africa is way too slow and often delayed in providing quick results to babies in need. That's why, according to Science Daily, the scientists there have completed their very first drone flight to deliver samples along a 1 kilometer route.

In a video produced by Reuters, they said that UNICEF is testing the drones in Malawi with the hope of reducing testing time for HIV results. Experts say that if this technology is effective it will definitely alleviate the problem of delayed HIV testing in the remote areas in Africa. The drones can carry about 250 test samples at once.

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According to a news report by Reuters, almost ten percent of the Malawi population is HIV positive. It is a serious problem. Angela Travis, Chief of Communication for UNICEF Malawi said in an interview with Africa News, "This programme started with the context we have in Malawi which is a country that still has 10 percent of its population HIV positive. That also extends to children, especially infants. Now for infants it is really critical that if they are HIV positive, they are put on treatment straight away."

Judith Sherman, Head of Malawi UNICEF Aids Program said that there are only 8 laboratories nationwide and that the babies need medical attention within two months once found positive of HIV. The drones will help make sure that HIV results and tests are delivered and executed on time so that the babies can receive medical treatment immediately.

Meanwhile, the government have also committed to support UNICEF in this project to help the Malawi community in their fight against HIV.

It may not be too much of an improvement for first world countries who have been using drones for a while now, but for mothers of HIV positive babies in Africa, these drones can make a lot of difference in the lives of their children and possibly help increase the rate of survival of HIV positive babies in Africa.

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