HomeNewsHealth InsightUtilization of AI linked with accurate detection of Tuberculosis

Utilization of AI linked with accurate detection of Tuberculosis

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New York, 28 March 2024 (TDI): Artificial Intelligence (AI) screening for Tuberculosis (TB) paves the way for a more enhanced treatment for patients. The portable X-ray machine allows for things to be made easier for doctors and patients and plays a significant role in tuberculosis response, reports Dr Saidsharif Haydarov, who is a tuberculosis specialist in Rudaki, Tajikistan.

This automated technology assists Dr Haydarov to understand chest X-rays better and see if people have tuberculosis. This is a fatal disease that mostly has an impact on the lungs. If any abnormalities are found in the images, patients go through more testing to confirm their diagnosis and receive proper treatment.

As chest X-rays are the usual ways of screening and determining people for tuberculosis and examining their lung damage, AI results are more accurate and ready in a matter of minutes, allowing health workers to evaluate the next step for TB care, including in remote areas in the absence of radiology experts.

Portability of AI for Tuberculosis

Merged with the benefits of AI, these new battery-powered X-ray machines are compact and light enough to be carried by hand. Traditional X-ray machines are fixed in a designated building and function on local electric grids.

This raises issues for low and middle-income countries where electricity is unreliable such as Sudan and Tajikistan. These are also countries where the bulk of tuberculosis cases are found.

“Power supply is a big challenge in Torit. But this is not a conventional X-ray. You can charge a battery and use it multiple times on a single charge. As it’s quite portable, you can go to a community, conduct X-rays, and come back,” reported Dr. Ofere Ohide, a radiologist at Torit State Hospital, South Sudan.

In addition to this, portability allows for lowering the cost of traveling to health centers for rural patients, who may otherwise hamper tuberculosis testing until their health becomes more serious. Also, AI-assisted x-rays can detect other diseases including COVID-19.

Also Read: Iran highlights achievements to combat Tuberculosis at UN

Tajikistan

Over a quarter of all the people with tuberculosis in Tajikistan in 2022, had a strain that is resistant to rifampicin, which is one of the strongest anti-tuberculosis medicines. Tajikistan is one of 18 high-priority countries for tuberculosis in the World Health Organization European Region.

It is also one of the 30 high-burden countries around the globe with multi-drug-resistant TB. Despite a decrease in cases and deaths in recent years in Tajikistan, out of the 7,800 people with tuberculosis in 2022, less than half were ever reported. This illustrates that thousands of people never received services.

With support from the Global Fund to Fight AIDS, Tuberculosis, and Malaria, the National TB Program (NTP) and UNDP partnered to increase the detection of tuberculosis in Tajikistan by utilizing 15 AI assisted X rays to screen people who are at an increased risk of TB, also including migrants, people with HIV and people in prisons.

Moreover, the Stop TB Partnership and the United States Agency for International Development provided additional machines.

The digital X-rays were used to screen around 120,000 people for TB in 2023. This allowed for the diagnosis and treatment of 15 percent of the country’s total number of reported cases in the previous year.

Sudan

In the region of South Sudan, the Ministry of Health, the Global Fund, and UNDP provided two digital X-rays to state hospitals in December 2023, with another four expected to be installed in March 2024.

With this development, 10 people with tuberculosis have been identified in Torit so far, as the Ministry finds ways to analyze the use of new technologies, to assist in finding and tending to the country’s approximately 25,000 cases each year.

An example of the advantage AI technology has brought in the health sector, rests in the case of Alfeo Obusuk, a laboratory technician at Torit State Hospital. Obusuk was a patient who had a lingering cough, for two years. At this time, he received pneumonia treatment after microscopy and GeneXpert did not uncover TB.

When Obusuk took a digital X-ray in January, doctors detected a possible TB infection, which must have been missed preciously because of an insufficient sputum sample. After a second GeneXpert test, his diagnosis was confirmed, and his treatment for tuberculosis began that same day.

With only six years left to attain the 2030 Agenda, developments against TB have been hindered by COVID-19 and remain deficient. US$13 billion is needed every year to expand TB prevention, testing, and treatment.

This also includes equal access to digital solutions and AI innovations, all the while realizing targets in the 2023 UN Political Declaration on TB.

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