The government of Rwanda has officially launched the use of robots in its fight against the global COVID-19 pandemic. The move seeks to reduce contact between medical practitioners and patients, and in the long run, reduce the risk of healthcare workers contracting the virus.
According to the country’s Ministry of ICT and Innovation, the robots’ capacity allows them to screen between 50 to 150 people per minute, capture both audio and video data, and notify officers on duty about detected abnormalities to ensure timely response and case management.
Furthermore, they are designed with various advanced features to support doctors and nurses at designated treatment centers, and can also be leveraged into screening sites in the country.
The five robots can also perform a number of tasks related to COVID-19 management, including:
- Mass temperature screening
- Food and medication delivery to patients
- Data capturing
- Detecting people not wearing masks
Dr. Daniel Ngamije, the country’s Minister of Health, says that robotics engineers will train the Ministry of Health staff concerning the use of the robots for about one month, then the ministry’s officials will be able to operate them.
Rwanda has already partnered with the tech company, Zipline, and successfully deployed autonomous drones that travel hundreds of kilometers to deliver vital medical supplies to rural health centers.
The country has been at the front line in the fight against COVID-19. It is already seeking suspension of its debt repayments for at least two years in order to deal with the economic impacts of the global COVID-19 pandemic. The country’s media outlets quoted President Paul Kagame that the economy will probably only grow 3.5% this year, from an earlier projection of at least 8%.
It is also cushioning its citizens against the impacts of the virus through:
- Door-to-door distribution of food
- Provision of free water and electricity
- Provision of free medical supplies.