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Uganda has joined the African nations in using drones to deliver life-saving medical.

Medical specialists are using cargo drones to combat one of Africa's worst provincial HIV problems on the 84 isolated islands that make up Uganda's Kalangala District on the surface of Lake Victoria.

Uganda is not alone in the initiative; Rwanda and Ghana are also using medical supply drones to reach remote areas, and the technology as a whole promises a faster and more dependable means to deliver life-saving medications and supplies to more than 22 million Africans.

The use of these drones has been dubbed a "game-changer," and while Victoria is a lake, it is so large that it takes a passenger boat 16 hours to cross it. Adding up the time for pauses and navigating among the islands, as well as attempting to transfer medical supplies by boat, has become a monumental task.

Lake Victoria's islands, which are home to around 67,000 people, have an HIV incidence rate of 18 percent, which is much higher than the national average of 5.6 percent. Antiretroviral medicines can prevent the virus from weakening the immune system, and the cargo drones' 4.5-foot wingspan can transport a kilogram of these supplies at a time across a distance of roughly 150 kilometers (105 miles).

The drones, which were developed by Uganda's Academy of Health Innovation and cost around $5,500 each, were launched for the first time last week and will supply 78 different community groups and health facilities across the widely dispersed Ssese islands, with approximately 200 scheduled flights per month.

"Using medical drones is a major stride for us in the health sector in enhancing service delivery, especially in hard-to-reach locations," said Uganda's director general of health services, Henry Mwebesa. "It's really beneficial. Once it has shown to be effective, we will be able to apply it to other facilities and reproduce it in other locations."

"Thanks to the support and coordination of our partners, including Johnson & Johnson, this program will help gather the information and data needed to help make this future a reality, while also assisting in the delivery of life-saving care to people in need," said Parkes-Ratanshi, Academy project director.

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