ACT For Health renews its support to Periwinkle Technologies

Cervical cancer is a critical public health issue in India, which has one of the world’s highest incidence rates and ranking as the second-most common cancer affecting women in the country. It leads to over 67,000 deaths annually, claiming a woman’s life every 8 minutes. Limited access to screening, a shortage of healthcare resources, and a lack of awareness regarding preventive measures, particularly among women from marginalised communities, are some of the factors leading to this alarming situation.

Recognising the urgency of addressing this issue, ACT For Health has been supporting Periwinkle Technologies, a medtech startup that is on a mission to make India cervical cancer-free. Their innovative solution, the Smart Scope® CX, is an AI-powered handheld point-of-care digital device that enables health workers to detect cervical cancer at an early stage. This device serves as a single-visit alternative to traditional methods like pap smear and colposcopy, which are fraught with issues such as high dependence on trained professionals, cost-intensive infrastructure requirements, and lengthy turnaround times.

In stark contrast, the Smart Scope® CX efficiently captures images of the cervix and eliminates the need for electricity, space, or additional infrastructure. Its built-in AI component analyses these images to deliver results within 10-15 minutes and significantly reduces the dependence on trained professionals. The device can be easily used by healthcare workers at the last mile and allows for remote triaging of the results by experts. The Smart Scope® CX enables early detection of cervical cancer, reducing the morbidity and high mortality caused by late-stage diagnosis and propels significant technological advancements in addressing critical gaps in public health systems.

Over the last year, Periwinkle has demonstrated the efficacy of its solution by successfully screening over 1500 women in Chattisgarh. These early pilots helped validate the effectiveness of Periwinkle’s solution and provided learnings on how this can be deployed in public health settings.

ACT For Health is excited to renew its support for Periwinkle through a follow-on scale-up grant. The aim is to build on the learnings from earlier pilots by conducting on-ground cervical cancer screening in Primary Health Centres (PHCs) across both rural and urban settings across multiple states in India. The objective is to showcase the benefits of using Periwinkle’s Smart Scope® CX device in public health settings, esp. PHCs, and achieve scalability within the public health system. This grant will play a pivotal role in expanding Periwinkle’s deployments in Maharashtra, Manipur, and Jharkhand in collaboration with ACT For Health’s implementation partners to unlock state-wide takeup within the public health system.

ACT welcomes Karya to the collective with our first Education x Women grant

As per the UNDP’s Multidimensional Poverty Index, 15% of India’s population, i.e ~200 million people, live in poverty. This is, by far, the largest number of underprivileged people in any country. However, with the massive growth of AI across businesses, there is a huge demand for data to train AI/ML models for which tech companies spend billions of dollars each year. Karya is leveraging the opportunity that this need for regionalised data presents, by providing simplified data work to rural Indians through its microtasking platform – the Karya App. Their solution essentially democratises digital data work that has the potential to generate up to $1500 in supplementary incomes for data collectors from underserved communities within a year and accelerate their social mobility.

We’re excited to support Karya on their vision to bring 100M individuals out of poverty by building ethical ways of data collection that fairly compensates its workers, primarily from rural India. The Karya app is an innovative platform that assigns individuals simplified AI/ML data training microtasks and helps them generate income through Karya Earn. Additionally, they provide upskilling opportunities via Karya Learn and career guidance through Karya Grow. Since its inception in 2021 at Microsoft Research, Karya has impacted over 32,000 individuals (60% of whom are women), across 25+ states/UTs, who have received wages totaling INR 4.5 crore for completion of 35M+ digital tasks.

While offering its workers as much as 20 times the prevailing minimum wage in the country, Karya ensures production of better quality Indian-language data that tech companies can use for their AI/ML data work.

To further augment supplementary incomes, Karya is gearing towards generating higher demand for its data work. Through its focus on an ‘earn then learn model’, Karya is supporting its workers to generate enough supplementary income to be able to focus on upskilling and career counselling. Given Karya’s strong focus on enabling career opportunities and learning avenues, ACT is proud to support Karya through an Education X Women grant to:
Focus on building a sales team for higher demand generation among international and national tech-focused organisations
Publish insights on the impact of upskilling and well-being for workers earning supplementary income, with an emphasis on gender-specific nuances
We’re thrilled to be part of Karya’s journey in revolutionising the landscape of tech-driven livelihood opportunities for rural communities.

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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