Save the Children uses drones for blood deliveries at Rwanda's largest refugee camp

KIGALI, June 20 (Xinhua) -- Global charity Save the Children announced Thursday that it had introduced the use of drones to deliver blood to Mahama, Rwanda's largest refugee camp, providing relief for women giving birth who previously had to travel for hours to receive specialist care.

In a statement coinciding with World Refugee Day on June 20, Save the Children said that this life-saving initiative was launched following the renovation of a medical center at the camp in eastern Rwanda last year.

"Access to maternal and newborn healthcare is an essential right for all women and mothers, including refugees, many of whom feel particularly vulnerable having already faced unthinkable trauma and displacement," said Maggie Korde, Save the Children's country director in Rwanda. "With the renovated medical center and the introduction of drones, people needing blood transfusions, including women experiencing postpartum hemorrhage, can now be treated at Mahama camp. These drones are quite simply lifesaving."

The drones replenish the health center's small blood bank, established as part of the 2023 revamp. In emergencies, the drones can deliver blood from a medical warehouse to the center within half an hour. Each drone is fully autonomous, capable of traveling at 70 mph and carrying up to two 400 ml blood bags in ice to maintain the correct temperature.

Previously, all patients at the camp needing blood transfusions, including women suffering from postpartum hemorrhage, were referred to Kirehe District Hospital, about 38 km away, a journey taking about two hours by road.

Mahama's medical center is one of two facilities supporting more than 63,000 refugees and asylum seekers in the camp.

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