INTRODUCTION: The vast advancement of technology and breakthrough in high-tech disciplines created multiple areas of research activities, including the emergence of the medical drone. Malaysia, a rapidly developing country in Southeast Asia is on track to achieving high-income status. However, the stagnant growth of Malaysian maternal healthcare does not run parallel with the aspiration. This review paper assessed and reported narratively the current condition of maternal healthcare in Malaysia, the possible application of drones in improving the sector, exploring in detail several challenges, and providing recommendations for experts in studying the rising technological phenomena.
MATERIALS AND METHODS: A literature search was done from June 2019 to November 2019 with restrictions to the English language. The search was performed in ScienceDirect, PubMed, and EMBASE databases, using a combination of search terms related to drones, Unmanned Aerial Vehicles (UAV), Unmanned Aerial Systems (UAS), maternal, obstetric, healthcare, medical products transportation and Malaysia. A discourse analysis followed and a narrative review was provided on this subject.
RESULTS AND DISCUSSION: The validated ability of drones in the delivery of blood products is highlighted as a possible application in improving maternal healthcare in Malaysia, particularly in the state of Sabah. Five key challenges are identified: infrastructure, technicalities, regulations, expertise, and social acceptance. Future predictions of drone technology in healthcare were outlined with the suggestion of three principle arms of application.
CONCLUSION: The usage of the medical drone in medical products transportation supports the objectives of WHO MDG 5 for Malaysian maternal health. A study on the impact of drones in reducing the maternal mortality ratio is recommended for further exploration.
* Title and MeSH Headings from MEDLINE®/PubMed®, a database of the U.S. National Library of Medicine.