17 Nov 2014

Drones trialled in TB fight in PNG

12:07 pm on 17 November 2014

Medicins Sans Frontieres says the first trials of drone technology to tackle tuberculosis in Papua New Guinea by providing better treatment access have been successful.

A programme manager for MSF, Eric Pujo, says the unmanned aerial vehicles or UAVs can be used to carry TB samples, results and medicines in a remote area Kerema in PNG's Gulf Province.

He says the technology has the potential to improve access to full treatment and save sick people from long periods of difficult travel.

"We made a test between one health centre and the hospital. And by car it's between four or five hours in between the two locations and with the use of the UAV we were able to make it in 55 minutes."

Eric Pujo says MSF is now in negotiations with the drone makers Matternet to see if they can extend the range and use of the technology in PNG.

The World Health Organisation says there were nearly 25,000 notified cases of TB in PNG in 2013.