Daily CSR
Daily CSR

Daily CSR
Daily news about corporate social responsibility, ethics and sustainability

Revolutionizing Healthcare Delivery in Remote Alaska through Drone Technology


Alaska, a sprawling state characterized by diverse weather patterns and landscapes, presents unique challenges for its 240 remote villages and communities, particularly when it comes to ensuring timely access to life-saving medications. Overcoming these formidable obstacles demands inventive approaches.
In collaboration with the University of Alaska, a drone provider, local governmental entities, and other stakeholders, we embarked on a pioneering venture. Our joint effort sought to demonstrate the practical application of drone technology in enhancing the availability of medicines, as evidenced by a proof-of-concept initiative. The drone was specially equipped with a thermal protection system to securely transport temperature-sensitive pharmaceuticals.
The integration of drone technology facilitates the distribution of crucial medications to regions where they are most urgently required. For Leslie Brunette, our colleague and advisor on the drone project, this achievement signifies the culmination of a journey that commenced over a decade ago in her hometown of Fargo, North Dakota.
Recalling her encounter with a young man from a tribal community, Brunette, who also leads Merck's Native American and Global Indigenous People employee business resource group on a global scale, recounted, "I was introduced to a young man from a tribal community, and his grandmother had invited me to go and visit him."

She elaborated on the challenges faced by the young man due to his remote locale, which necessitated a lengthy journey of two to three hours to access healthcare. Tragically, he later fell seriously ill and had to be relocated from the reservation to receive medical attention.
Motivated by the insights gained into the young man's family and cultural background, Brunette felt compelled to amplify the voices of indigenous communities across the United States and around the world. "When he passed away, because of how much we learned about his family and his culture, I knew that more needed to be said and needed to be done," she affirmed, committing herself to raising awareness and advocating for indigenous communities.
Our endeavor to enhance healthcare delivery in Alaska is not without precedent. The annual Iditarod race, a tribute to a historic sled dog relay in 1925 that transported an antitoxin produced by Merck's legacy company H.K. Mulford to Nome amidst treacherous blizzard conditions, exemplifies our commitment to innovative healthcare solutions.
Throughout our history, we take pride in our sustained efforts to broaden access to essential medications and vaccines, collaborating closely with partners to devise inventive strategies that address the needs of those in vulnerable situations.
You can learn more about Merck’s Environmental, Social & Governance (ESG) approach by clicking here.