New Delhi: Government is exploring Artificial Intelligence (AI) for tackling the burden of tuberculosis (TB) in India. The Central TB Division of the Union Health Ministry has signed a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) with Wadhwani Institute for Artificial Intelligence, Mumbai to explore the application of cutting-edge AI technology in its fight against the disease.
The health ministry officials said that as a part of the collaboration, Wadhwani AI will support National TB programme become AI-ready which would include, developing, piloting, and deploying AI-based solutions. It would support the programme in vulnerability and hot-spot mapping, modelling novel methods of screening and diagnostics and enabling decision support for care-givers apart from supporting the Revised National Tuberculosis Control Program (RNTCP) in adoption of other AI technologies.
“The RNTCP has been at the forefront of adoption of newer technologies in healthcare. The AI provides a unique opportunity for the health sector, bringing efficiency, saving resources and bringing accuracy in interpretation and enhancing quality of service delivery. Its use in this sector has an ample scope to improve outcomes, especially in situations where resources are limited," reads an official statement from Union Ministry of Health and Family Welfare.
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Prime Minister Narendra Modi time and again in his speeches has mentioned that India aims to end TB by 2025, five years ahead of the Global Sustainable Development targets. A recent study published in ERJ open research journal in association with the Global TB Programme, World Health Organization (WHO) stated that countries aiming to reduce their TB burden by 2035 to the levels envisaged by the WHO End TB Strategy need to innovate, with approaches such as digital health (electronic and mobile health) in support of patient care, surveillance, programme management, training and communication. It also mentioned that many experts forecast the imminent transformation of the delivery of healthcare services.
“Alongside the large-scale roll-out required for such interventions to make a significant impact, products must stay abreast of advancing technology over time. The integration of artificial intelligence into new software promises to make processes more effective and efficient, endowing them with a potential hitherto unimaginable," the study said.
“Users can benefit from artificial intelligence-enabled pattern recognition software for tasks ranging from reading radiographs to adverse event monitoring, sifting through vast datasets to personalise a patient’s care plan or to customise training materials," it said. According to WHO estimates, India has about 27 lakh TB cases and 4.23 lakh deaths every year.