Salcit Tech’s Swaasa is an affordable AI-led innovation to accurately screen for TB infections

ACT For Health is collaborating with India Health Fund (a Tata Trusts initiative) to jointly fund Salcit Technologies and support them in developing Swaasa which is an AI-powered solution that can revolutionise the early detection and treatment of tuberculosis in India. Neetha Joy, Director – ACT For Health, Venkat Yechuri, CEO, Salcit Technologies and Madhav Joshi, CEO, India Health Fund in an interaction with Express Healthcare talks about this partnership and its role in screening TB infections 


Neetha Joy

What is the role of tech-led innovation in transforming the public health landscape in India?
Tech-led innovations have a lot of potentials to improve healthcare delivery in rural India. The availability of healthcare providers is scarce in rural and underserved areas – that’s where technology can ensure that better care is delivered even with limited access. For example, accurate and affordable point-of-care diagnostics can greatly improve prognosis and timely treatment for common conditions. Clinical decision support systems can bring expert opinions to the hands of a healthcare worker if driven by protocols. Systems like telemedicine can bring specialist and super-specialist care to the peripheries where such specialists are not available.

How the collaboration between ACT For Health, India Health Fund, and Salcit Technologies demonstrate the potential of leveraging private innovations for public healthcare?
Amongst infectious diseases, TB is a top priority for the government. In the TB care continuum, almost a third of patients are missed out due to a lack of accurate screening tools in the communities. Salcit Tech’s Swaasa is an affordable AI-led innovation to accurately screen for TB infections. If Swaasa is able to demonstrate high sensitivity and specificity, it has the potential to change the dynamics of TB screening. We are very excited to work with IHF and bring on board experts from ICMR and CTD in taking this technology to underserved communities.

Narayana Rao Sripada

How is Swaasa looking to address the issue of TB in India in the coming six months? How does Swaasa plan to disrupt the early detection of TB using AI?
Swaasa has added the capability to detect the likely presence of TB and has completed one validation study at Andhra Medical College, Visakhapatnam. Though the model was found to be reasonably accurate in detecting the possible presence of pulmonary tuberculosis based on cough signatures, large-scale data collection, and validation will further help to improve the platform’s accuracy for making it more reliable for screening genetically diverse subjects under different environmental conditions. With the support and funding from India Health Fund and ACT For Health, we aim to stay true to our mission of serving the underserved by taking our AI-powered tool to the
communities. Swaasa holds the promise not only to screen TB non-invasively and instantaneously but also to enhance the capacity of healthcare workers and strengthen the health system, including the public and private networks.

Madhav Joshi

What is the need for affordable, rapid response, and sensitive screening tools like Swaasa to enable early detection of TB?
Active case finding (ACF) is an established measure for the systematic screening of infectious diseases like TB in high-risk populations. Unfortunately, there has been a lack of affordable and sensitive screening tools that can quickly help find the millions of active TB cases that often go undiagnosed. Currently, ACF uses manually-intensive and subjective methods like visual inspection, patient questionnaires, etc.

With Swaasa, we have for the first time a solution that can help identify the “missing millions” of TB patients. The speed, cost-effectiveness, and simplicity of the product have the potential to make a tangible difference in screening and diagnosis at scale in a short amount of time.

India Health Fund was set up by the Tata Trusts to generate a catalytic effect on the financing of India’s progress towards eliminating infectious diseases by funding technology that addresses contagious diseases, an area largely dependent on the government sector. On the other hand, ACT, a non-profit venture philanthropy platform, that was born as a response to the COVID-19 crisis, believes in the power of collective action to achieve social
impact at scale.

This partnership marks the beginning of a strong collaborative journey amongst like-minded funders that would bring the much-needed focus on infectious diseases. IHF believes that by partnering with ACT, the collective can combine the quantum of philanthropic funds to amplify the support provided to health-tech innovations.

By funding Salcit, we’re supporting a potentially game-changer solution that can amplify tech’s ability to reach the patient’s doorstep.

digital healthTB eliminationtechnologyWorld TB Day 2023
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