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Mahabir Pun’s National Innovation Centre Tests Medi-copters to Treat Patients in Remote Areas

Nepali Engineers from Mahabir Pun’s National Innovation Center (NIC) have given life to a medical drone, reports My Republica. The drone successfully completed an outdoor test flight. They will be used to provide medical services in the rural areas where people do not have access to timely medical services. NIC has announced that the drones will be launched in Myagdi district soon.

mahabir pun medi copters
Image Credit: Nepali Times

Why it matters:

  • Unlike the situations in urban areas, where people have quick access to health services, in rural Nepal, there are still cases where a large number of deaths occur due to lack of timely access to health services. A medical drone can help to solve that problem in rural areas.
  • Furthermore, according to Pun, an agreement has already been made with the Ministry of Health (MoH) to ferry medicines to and from the health posts and collect stool samples from the remote areas during an epidemic. “The drones can be used to supply medicines and emergency health equipment easily to such areas,” he said. “We will work in coordination with the government agencies.”

The Details:

  • The NIC was set up with $600,000 in donations from Nepalis living in Nepal and abroad.
  • The center is developing two prototypes, an octocopter and a fixed-wing drone, each with ranges of 15 and 30 km respectively.
  • The drones can carry a maximum of 3 kg load and are capable of carrying medicines and collecting body fluid samples.
  • Pun’s long-term goal is to make it sustainable by running the center with the income generated by a hydropower plant. The center has planned to invest Rs. 500 million for the plant.
  • Tribhuvan University has offered a plot of land to build an office, and Pun’s vision is for NIC to be an incubator and start a ‘micro Silicon Valley’ for startups.

What they are saying:

  • “I want to stop the brain drain of talented people by supporting them in the development of innovative technologies that bring economic growth to Nepal, not to build strong economies elsewhere,” says Pun, who himself returned from the United States to launch rural Internet networks, telemedicine and agricultural services to over 200 remote villages in Nepal.
  •  “The drones will be flown for the first time in Myagdi in the first or second week of April,” says Pun.
  • “We want people to regard our drones as messengers from God, delivering life-saving support,” says Karki, who hopes to have medi-copters fully operational in two years.
  • “I tried to raise incomes in remote villages with pilot projects, but now realize change has to come from the national level. NIC is not social work, but nation building I am tired of seeing my country being poor.”

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