ACT For Health and India Health Fund collaborate to support Salcit Technologies

India continues to be the tuberculosis capital of the world, accounting for every 1 in 4 TB cases worldwide. Although we have made great strides in identifying and treating TB patients with innovative policies and aggressive testing, we still miss millions of TB patients who are not caught by the public healthcare radar. Because while active case finding (ACF) is an established measure for the systematic screening of TB in high-risk populations, there has been a lack of affordable, rapid response and sensitive screening tools that can help find undiagnosed active TB cases.

Addressing this need, ACT For Health and India Health Fund (IHF) are co-funding the development of Swaasa® – a mobile app by Salcit Technologies that records cough sounds from suspected TB patients using a phone’s microphone and analyzes them to decode unique cough signatures to detect the possible presence of pulmonary tuberculosis using a proprietary AI algorithm and give a report in just a few minutes.

Salcit’s non-invasive innovation can run on any smartphone, requires no additional equipment/consumables and offers the key advantage of being used by patients themselves in the confines of their households, without the risk of infection spread or the need of trained staff. It can also be easily used by frontline health workers in low-resource and remote settings and thus, promises to be easily scalable to enable early detection of the disease.

The co-funded grant will aid Salcit Technologies in the technical validation of the Swaasa®’s AI algorithm – the six-month long project will include the collection of cough sounds from about 5700 subjects (TB and Non-TB), the technical validation of the platform across 6 public health centers and the enhancement of the platform to reach an accuracy of 90% for detecting the likely presence of TB.

We believe that our support will help Swaasa® emerge as a gold standard TB screening tool that could supplement and strengthen existing Active Case Finding (ACF) in low resource settings and herald a new era of cutting edge technology being deployed for tackling the public health problems at scale to create a playbook for AI based mobile health solutions!

Brisil Technologies joins the ACT For Environment portfolio

With over 100 million tonnes of rice produced annually, India is the second largest producer of rice in the world. But this economic strength also leaves our country to deal with massive quantities of agricultural waste in the form of rice husk and straw. When used as biofuels, these waste materials leave behind an estimated 2-3 million tonnes of Rice Husk Ash (RHA) – which is often dumped in open spaces across India, leading to significant air pollution.

But there is a silver lining. The high silica content in RHA makes it an attractive source for extracting silica for industrial use; thus providing a sustainable solution to its growing demand. Regular silica production is traditionally done through illegal sand mining which ends up damaging the nearby rivers, floodplains and water tables.

Brisil Technologies has developed a patented technology that uses RHA to produce green precipitated silica and highly porous carbon, thus creating new commercial opportunities for what has only been considered a waste product while having a tremendous environmental and economic impact. Every ton of silica produced from Brisil’s technology can reduce over 10,000 Kgs equivalent of CO2 emissions as compared to traditional silica extraction processes and minimize open dumping of over 2000 Kg of rice husk/straw ash. But more importantly, the process is 35% more energy efficient compared to traditional extraction processes and also prevents the destruction of riverbeds and aquatic ecosystems that are a direct result of sand mining.

Since Brisil identified the problem and the market opportunity a decade ago, they have now successfully commercialised the technology and established trust with numerous Fortune 500 companies to export their green precipitated silica across Southeast Asia, Japan, Europe, US and Brazil. The company, founded by Tanmay Pandya, exemplifies India-focused frugal innovations, the environmental impact of green chemistry, and the business potential of green silica.

With Brisil’s solution, the world has a chance to embrace a more sustainable future – where waste is used as a valuable resource instead of having a negative environmental impact. We’re proud to support them on their journey and look forward to helping them scale their product further!

ACT For Education brings English Quest on board

In India, English is often seen as an aspirational language. However, for many students who attend vernacular medium schools in small towns, communicating in English can be a struggle. While some may argue that the poor quality of teaching in government or affordable private schools is to blame, the curriculum itself also plays a role. Fluency in any language requires more than just grammar and vocabulary; it is closely tied to speaking and listening. Without a foundation in oral communication, students are more likely to struggle with English in the future.

It’s time to give students in small towns the tools they need to break down the language barrier and unlock a world of opportunities – and this is where English Quest comes in. With a mission to bridge the gap, they’ve developed an innovative curriculum that combines verbal and non-verbal cueing techniques to help students improve their English communication skills – available at an affordable price point of just Rs. 600 per student.

By using a combination of English Quest app and projectors in schools, local teachers are trained to use scripted lesson plans and supportive images to help students develop relationships with text-to-speech. The pedagogy is based on Direct Instruction, Spoken English (DISE) – an approach that has proven to be highly effective in teaching English in other countries. This active learning approach helps students become confident and fluent in their spoken English.

In the past 5 months, 85% of students learning with English Quest have achieved mastery over the English level of A1. Over a 4 year course period, English Quest aims to take every child from a beginner level (A1) to an upper intermediate level (B2).

ACT For Education is thrilled to partner with English Quest to help them scale their solution to 500 schools by 2024 and enable 1 million students become confident English communicators!

ACT Capital Foundation For Social Impact is a not-for-profit company incorporated and registered under Section 8 of the Companies Act, 2013. All donations made to ACT Capital Foundation are eligible for income tax deduction under Section 80G of the Income Tax Act.

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