Tuberculosis

A Concerted Eradication Effort through AI

At Wadhwani AI, we are creating technologies to address multiple challenges across the cascade of tuberculosis care.

The Problem

Tuberculosis is caused by a bacterium called Mycobacterium tuberculosis. The bacteria can attack any part of the body such as the kidney, spine, and brain, but usually attack the lungs, in which case it is contagious. If not treated properly, tuberculosis can be fatal.

In 2016, there were 10.4 million new active tuberculosis cases and 1.7 million deaths worldwide. It is estimated that as many as 50% of tuberculosis cases may go unreported and unknown.

More people die of tuberculosis than of HIV and malaria put together. Despite a strong eradication programme, almost half of all tuberculosis cases in India go undetected.

In January 2019, the Wadhwani Institute for Artificial Intelligence became the official AI partner for India’s Central Tuberculosis Division.

Impact through AI

As the official AI partner for India’s Central Tuberculosis Division, what works to our advantage is the fact that the circumstances are conducive to our work — there already exist a centralised strategy and execution; dedicated government staff and budgets; support from organisations such as WHO; strong digital infrastructure, and multiple touch-points across a patient’s journey.

Now, we are creating technologies to address multiple challenges across the cascade of TB care, starting with case load estimation at the district level using a variety of risk and transmission factors to help identify missing cases, and the prioritisation of TB patients for health workers through stratification of the risk of drop-off from treatment

"We are in the midst of working on a number of exciting opportunities for developing AI for social impact. However, the two ends of this chain, namely problem identification and testing/ deployment, require experience in working in the field with the communities whose problems we are trying to address. Equally important is experience in working with local, state, and national level government organisations."

- Dr. P. Anandan, CEO, Wadhwani AI