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!