Meraque, Pharmaniaga deliver medicines with drones

The deliveries are for flood victims whose access to medical facilities and hospitals were cut off during the recent flood disaster 

by AZALEA AZUAR / graphic by MZUKRI MOHAMAD

MALAYSIAN drone company Meraque Services Sdn Bhd and Pharmaniaga Bhd last month used drones to deliver medicines to flood victims in Kuala Langat, Selangor. 

Meraque deployed four drones or unmanned aerial vehicles to deliver Pharmaniaga’s critical medical supplies to more than 30 homes around Bandar Seri Ehsan in Banting on Dec 22, 2021. 

The operation took three days where the drones carried 15kg in payload and travelled up to 20km. 

This was in response to the nationwide flood disaster in which it was difficult for stranded victims to gain access to medical facilities and hospitals. 

Meraque CEO Md Razalee Ismail said they were contacted by government agencies when the flood occurred and took action. 

“We got together with our partner Pharmaniaga who immediately deployed their team to support this effort. 

“We would like to express our gratitude to all relevant authorities, especially the Civil Aviation Authority of Malaysia (CAAM) and the Malaysia Civil Defence Force (MCDF) for providing us with the approvals and for helping us ensure safe deployment of our drones,” he said in a statement yesterday. 

Meraque and Pharmaniaga worked closely with both the agencies to ensure the safety and security of the unmanned air services during the three-day flood-relief initiative. 

Both MCDF and CAAM made sure they met all necessary safety requirements and regulations. 

“The successful drone deployment and delivery of medicines is proof of concept of the use of drones in pharmaceutical-grade medical delivery. 

“Even with unfavourable weather conditions, geographical challenges and limited landing space, this operation proved to be a success,” Md Razalee added. 

He believed that using drones is much more effective and safer to deliver medicines during these emergency periods compared to using the road. 

Md Razalee said this method of delivery is not only used during disasters but can also be used to transport vaccines and medicines to remote areas swiftly. 

“Drones for medical delivery are becoming widely accepted across the globe and are rapidly revolutionising the healthcare landscape by making faster delivery of critical life-saving medicines,” he added. 

MCDF spokesman Lt Col (CD) Lokman Hakim Abdul Rahman said situations like this can be tricky and plugged with vulnerability for drone flights especially with the bad weather coupled with an unmapped area. 

“We are glad that this operation was a success and the families were able to receive the medications,” he said in the same statement. 

Lokman Hakim also felt that drone usage in medicine delivery would help save more lives. 

Meraque is part of the National Technology and Innovation Sandbox which is being spearheaded by the Science, Technology and Innovation Ministry. 

The company is also working at encouraging locals to build their own Hybrid Drone Spraying solutions for the agriculture sector and customised enterprise software solutions. 

Apart from Pharmaniaga, Meraque’s pool of clients include Sime Darby Plantation, Kuala Lumpur City Hall and Boustead Holdings Bhd.