Drone Technology is Changing the Face of Public Health

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Drone technology is a cutting-edge tool changing the face of public health and humanitarian aid. Drones offer unique potential for the areas of disaster recovery and global health. They have become a key tool for many public health and humanitarian agencies.
Drones can provide relief after a disaster such as an earthquake by:
Locating victims using aerial cameras, where workers on the ground might not be able to see them.
Facilitating Disaster Recovery In the aftermath of major disasters, drones can help in ways that are often too difficult or too dangerous for relief workers. They’re flexible and versatile, offering a powerful tool for a wide variety of purposes.
Bringing cell coverage to areas with no connectivity after a disaster. AT&T and Verizon deployed a drone to assist with cell phone service in Puerto Rico after Hurricane Maria.
Mapping disaster areas and assessing road conditions, as they did during Houston’s hurricane Harvey.
Delivering recovery supplies including life jackets and rescue ropes.
Delivering Medical Aid Delivery drones are helping to save lives by transporting vitally important packages, including medicines and supplies, particularly to rural areas that are otherwise difficult to reach.
Pilot projects indicate that drones could get external defibrillators to an emergency scene 16 minutes faster than an ambulance.
Drones in Rwanda transporting blood have cut delivery time from 4 hours to 15 minutes.
Zipline delivers medical supplies to remote clinics in as little as 15 minutes, eliminating trips that once took hours.
Ongoing Drone Technology Development UNICEF and the Government of Malawi have partnered together to develop the Humanitarian Drone Testing Corridor. This is creating the perfect area for experimental drone technology to develop and evolve.
  • Allows operations up to 400 m above ground level
  • Has a 1200 m runway
  • Has a 80 km diameter
  • Covers over 5000 square km
The Humanitarian UAV Testing Corridor will facilitate testing in three main areas:
Imagery – generating and analyzing aerial images for development and during humanitarian crises, including situation monitoring in floods and earthquakes.
Transport – delivery of small low weight supplies such as emergency medical supplies, vaccines and samples for laboratory diagnosis, such as for HIV testing.
Connectivity – exploring the possibility for UAVs to extend Wi-Fi or cellphone signals across difficult terrain, particularly in emergencies.
Through these and other innovative efforts, drones are finding new and powerful solutions to public health challenges. There are several key areas where drones have already made an impact, and are poised to continue improving public health.

Technology is changing the face of public health, from the use of social media to disseminate and collect important information to the development of ways to print organs in the future.

No example of the value of technology is more relevant right now than the use of drones. Drones have shown particular promise in disaster recovery efforts and global health initiatives, becoming a key tool for public health and humanitarian agencies alike.

Disaster Recovery

Drones are used directly following disasters not only to assess damage but also to understand dangerous conditions, look for victims that rescuers on the ground may not be able to see, and even deliver recovery supplies (like life jackets).

Delivering Medical Aid

Drones can be used to transport supplies and medications to rural areas in need of help. For example, drones are used in Rwanda to transport blood; additionally, pilot projects have shown that drones could get external defibrillators to emergency scenes much faster than an ambulance could.

Learn more about the use of drones for public health and how on-going drone technology development could make a difference in the below infographic by the USC Master of Public Health online program:





MIT Technology Review


Drone Life

NBC News

EKU Online


ABC 7 News