SORA Technology will build and operate infrastructure related to public health and medical care utilizing drones and their flight management system in order to contribute to the realization of Universal Health Coverage (UHC) in Africa and Asia. The development of this infrastructure centered on drones will make it possible not only to transport goods safely, reliably and timely, but also to manage healthcare-related information between multiple bases. We will overcome the problems of poor access to medical/health care and operational inefficiency due to distance and multiple processes. We are aiming to start the establishment of the drone infrastructure in West African countries, such as Sierra Leone and Senegal in 2022, planning to expand our infrastructure into totally 20 African and Asian developing countries by 2027.
|Issues to be solved ||Improving access to medical/health care in rural and remote areas |
|Product / Technology / Service ||Drone, Unmanned Traffic Management (UTM) system |
|Approach ||PoC, product promotion |
|Target country / area ||West African countries such as Sierra Leone and Senegal, and expand to other African and Asian countries in the future |
|Target year for achievement ||2027 |
|Scale of the business ||PoC projects on a scale of 10 ~ 100 million yen |
|Partner ||Institut Pasteur |
Local drone operators
Local telecommunications providers
|Relevant target of |
3.8 Achieve universal health coverage, including financial risk protection, access to quality essential health-care services and access to safe, effective, quality and affordable essential medicines and vaccines for all.
9.1 Develop quality, reliable, sustainable and resilient infrastructure, including regional and transborder infrastructure, to support economic development and human well-being, with a focus on affordable and equitable access for all
9.a Facilitate sustainable and resilient infrastructure development in developing countries through enhanced financial, technological and technical support to African countries, least developed countries, landlocked developing countries and small island developing States 18
17.16 Enhance the global partnership for sustainable development, complemented by multi-stakeholder partnerships that mobilize and share knowledge, expertise, technology and financial resources, to support the achievement of the sustainable development goals in all countries, in particular developing countries
In many sub-Saharan African countries, medical supplies are not always accessible especially in rural and remote areas, which has been huge barriers to provide timely and appropriate emergency response to tuberculosis, malaria, Ebola virus disease (Ebola hemorrhagic fever), new coronavirus infection, and other diseases. In many cases, moreover, there is no prompt and appropriate testing and diagnosis, even when symptoms with fever occur. Specimens from patients with fever are transported overland to urban laboratories, but due to the time required for transport and the bad road conditions, specimens are often of poor quality and cannot be properly tested once they arrive at the laboratory. These not only prevent patients from receiving proper treatment themselves, but also put them at risk for outbreaks.
Sierra Leone is one such country, where infant and maternal mortality is an urgent issue to be dealt with, while the establishment of the healthcare supply chain has been largely delayed. The Government of Sierra Leone has developed a national strategy for UHC, which points to the need to improve not only economic and social access but also physical access to healthcare (e.g., provision of healthcare services in remote areas) in order to achieve UHC. The National Digital Health Strategy 2018-2023 (*1) published by the Ministry of Health and Sanitation also calls for appropriate and efficient access to medical supplies through the use of digital technologies and integrated data management.
SORA Technology was established in June 2020 with the mission to contribute to solving social issues such as healthcare and emergency relief by utilizing technology and expertise related to drones and their operation management (Unmanned Traffic Management; UTM) systems. The integration of UTM systems with drone delivery of supplies is expected to enable autonomous takeoffs and landings, flights beyond visual line of sight (BVLOS), and collision avoidance with other aircrafts, as well as more efficient inventory management and on-demand transportation of medical supplies.
SORA Technology is planning to contribute to establish medical drone infrastructure in Sierra Leone, in collaboration with the Directorate of Science, Technology and Innovation (DSTI), and Njala University, to contribute to improve access to medical supplies and digital human resource development in Sierra Leone. In December 2021, they signed the MoU "ESTABLISHMENT OF MEDICAL DRONE INFRASTRUCTURE IN SIERRA LEONE" (*2). SORA Technology has also been in discussions with several related organizations, including working with HealthGrid (*3) , an initiative to provide essential services such as electricity access and Internet connectivity to rural off-grid medical facilities.
Purpose of the project
In Sierra Leone, we will introduce our technology and expertise in drones and control systems to solve local public health and digitalization issues. Safe, reliable, and timely transport of medical supplies will contribute to ensuring the quality of medical supplies and laboratory specimens with prompt diagnosis and treatment, thereby reducing the risk of the spread of infectious diseases such as COVID-19 and tuberculosis.
Detail of the Project (How can this project address global health challenges?)
We are planning a PoC project especially Southern Province of Sierra Leone, where medical access is a major issue. On the technical side, we will conduct flight tests of drones and optimize the specifications of hardware (drone, takeoff and landing device) and software (operation system). From the perspective of public health and medical care, we will transport medical supplies such as pharmaceuticals, vaccines, and laboratory specimens, in the actually optimized drone transportation infrastructure, and measure their effectiveness. In parallel with these, we will discuss sustainable business plans with the Ministry of Health and Sanitation, DSTI, Sierra Leonean Civil Aviation Authority, local stakeholders, and private sector candidates for collaboration.
In the near future, we aim to create a versatile infrastructure that can transport various supplies such as vaccines, maternal and child health handbooks, and small medical devices. Besides, we will consider integration with a medical supplies inventory management system and a data business that contributes to infectious disease spread prediction based on information acquired by drone-mounted sensors (weather, geographic information, etc.).
Timeline or milestones by the achievement of the commitment, KPI for monitoring activities
The PoC project will start in 2022, and the business model will be horizontally expanded to other regions such as Africa and Asia, in addition to business expansion within Sierra Leone. In developed countries, alternative transportation methods are well developed and strict laws and regulations are required, so we are drawing milestones of reimporting the model cultivated in developing countries to developed countries.
Precondition for achieving the commitment
- Obtaining licenses from local authorities (Ministry of Health, Civil Aviation Authority, etc.)
- Acquisition of external funds to carry out the PoC project (10 ~ 100 million yen)
Role and responsibility of each partner
- Institut Pasteur：Advisory and sharing knowledge to establish public health drone infrastructure. Partnership in the PoC and business operation based on the Institut Pasteur network in Asia and Africa.
- Local drone operators: Operational support
- Local telecommunications providers: Provision of telecommunications networks and advice on business development in Africa
1. National Digital Health Strategy 2018-2023, Ministry of Health and Sanitation Sierra Leonehttps://mohs2017.files.wordpress.com/2019/02/sl-national-digital-health-strategy-nov-2018.pdf
2. DSTI, SORA Technology, and Njala University Signed MOU for Sierra Leone Medical Drone Infrastructurehttps://www.dsti.gov.sl/dsti-sora-technology-and-njala-university-signed-mou-for-sierra-leone-medical-drone-infrastructure/
3. HealthGrid Sierra Leone: A Public-Private Alliance to Provide Sustainable Electricity, Internet Connectivity, and Clean Water to Remote Off-Grid Health Facilitieshttps://www.csrwire.com/press_releases/733611-healthgrid-sierra-leone-public-private-alliance-provide-sustainable
Company: SORA Technology Co., Ltd.
Person in charge: Masaki UMEDA
E-mail: masaki.umeda "at" sora-tech.com
(Please replace "at” with @)
editor：All contents including photos provided by SORA Technology. The commitment was first released in October 2020, followed by a content update in April 2022.