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Bosch, a leading global supplier of technology and services, announced its collaboration with Yonah, a project initiated by the alumni and students of National University of Singapore (NUS) that seeks to overcome barriers to accessing healthcare in rural regions through autonomous technologies.
The project was inspired by the founding team’s trip to Papua New Guinea in 2016, where they discovered cargo logistics challenges caused by the difficult terrain and lack of road infrastructure. This also inhibited the transport of medical supplies to rural villages, causing a surge in prices for transportation and hindering supervisory medical visits by health community workers. Yonah was thus founded to help time-sensitive medical supplies reach the communities that need them.
“From our hospital partner at Papua New Guinea, we learned that health workers conducting immunisation patrols at the various rural health centres have to travel 20 to 30 kilometres on foot, taking up to three days,” explained Ong Tian Chang, Yonah’s co-founder. “A routine immunisation patrol covering multiple sites could even take up to 12 days, which was definitely too long for vaccines to reach the provinces. It was then that we realised the potential of utilising autonomous drones in getting vaccines delivered.”
Enabling meaningful projects through innovation
Bosch came to hear of the Yonah project and decided to come on board as Yonah’s technology partner, enabling student volunteers through giving sponsorship consisting of financial resources, power tools, as well as expert mentoring, among others.
With the team working on a trial project to implement a cargo delivery service system in the highlands of Papua New Guinea, Bosch tools and technologies, such as temperature guns and drill presses, are utilised to build operationally-ready drone infrastructures to service two dozen remote sites with time-sensitive medical supplies.
Additionally, Bosch provides on-going support to the team with its technical experts providing regular training sessions to ensure the effective use of its tools for the project.
“Making a difference and enabling better living through innovation has always been close to the heart of what we do and believe in at Bosch,” said Martin Hayes, president of Bosch Southeast Asia. “At Bosch, we are committed to addressing social concerns and enabling sustainability through the solutions we offer. We are very glad to be supporting Yonah and to share our technologies with its passionate team. They are a perfect example of the next generation who are effecting positive change in global communities with their skills and educational know-how”.
Sustaining transformation and securing the way forward with the completion of the cargo drone infrastructure, Yonah is now setting its sights on local field testing and launching actual flights to deliver vaccinations to the rural villages of Papua New Guinea and beyond.
“Even as Yonah seeks to deploy more drone technologies in other rural areas to limit vaccine-preventable diseases, Bosch hopes to continue supporting their vision to make a difference through technology and innovation,” added Hayes.
Yonah, a project group of students and alumni of the National University of Singapore aims to overcome access barriers to healthcare in rural areas through cargo drone infrastructure. Beginning with their pilot project in Papua New Guinea, Yonah is working to deliver time-sensitive vaccines to about two dozen remote sites. As a technology partner to Yonah, Bosch is involved in the provision of monetary support and sponsorship of tools and technical expertise.
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