Drones that save lives? Meet humanitarian aid’s newest tool

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Public health experts and people providing humanitarian aid in remote areas are now using drones to deliver medical supplies and monitor potentially dangerous emergency scenes.

It’s a trend that’s caught the attention of USC global health experts.

The drones are such powerful tools for humanitarian aid that the researchers are teaching an online course on the topic. This month, USC’s Institute for Global Health is conducting what is believed to be the first online course on the use of drones for health. Some of the issues around drones are potentially sticky or controversial: Drone pilots sometimes must fly medicine across national borders, potentially violating the law, for example. But USC experts aim to share best practices and enable public health specialists to interact with experts from USC and across the world.

“Rwanda is leading the way in this space. They’ve been able to cut transport times from hours to 15 minutes,” said Shubha Kumar, assistant professor of preventive medicine at the Keck School of Medicine of USC. Swedish drone services provider Globhe approached Kumar to co-create and teach the course.

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— Paul Boutin
Photo courtesy of Globhe