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Gulf could have drone healthcare delivery by 2026

Drone delivery could help provide healthcare to more remote regions of the Gulf, backers of a pilot programme hope Wingcopter
Drone delivery could help provide healthcare to more remote regions of the Gulf, backers of a pilot programme hope
  • Pilot programme nearing completion
  • ‘This is not futuristic’
  • Greater efficiency and reduced costs

Drone delivery technology transporting healthcare materials such as blood samples, vaccines and pharmaceuticals is likely to take to the skies across the Gulf within the next two years.

A test programme between Siemens Healthineers and the German drone manufacturer Wingcopter in Kenya is due to come to a conclusion in the next two and a half months, and its backers hope it could then be rolled out in the Gulf.

Vivek Kanade, the Dubai-based head of business and operations in the Middle East and Africa for Siemens Healthineers, told AGBI: “This is not futuristic. This is not something planned a long way away.

“In the next one year, two years, you should see more examples of this.”

The drones are battery powered and have a 75km range. They are connected to Siemens Healthineers’ laboratory diagnostics facilities, allowing for a two-way delivery of samples, medicine and other medical products to remote areas of the population.

Kanade said the technology results in a faster turnaround time, increased efficiency and a reduction in costs.

“It can scale to any region,” he said. “We can take Dubai as a hub and go up to Hatta, into smaller towns, to provide access, meaning people don’t have to travel up and down the road for their medical needs.”

In 2021, about 4.5 billion people, more than half of the global population, were not fully covered by essential health services, a report from the World Health Organization said.

Across the Middle East and Africa, Kanade said the figure was more than 1 billion.

The research company Statista predicted that the drone market in the UAE alone would generate revenue of $4.1 million in 2023, across a range of different sectors. 

In 2024, the market is predicted to record a growth rate of 7.7 percent.

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