MUMBAI - Even before the COVID-19 crisis hit, India’s healthcare was in dire straits. The South Asian nation had an estimated shortage of 600,000 doctors and 2 million nurses, a report by the Center for Disease Dynamics, Economics & Policy (CDDEP) in 2019 found.
This lack of staff prevented patients from accessing life-saving drugs. The shortage of diagnostic facilities is even worse in the country.
The other problem was affordability. Medical costs in India – 65 percent of health expenditures are out of pocket – pushes 57 million people into poverty each year, the CDDEP report further revealed. The COVID-19 pandemic thus came as the proverbial last nail in the coffin - or so it was thought.
Though the pandemic has been devastating to many, Artificial Intelligence (AI) is providing hope to the nation in all aspects of COVID-19 surveillance, diagnosis, and treatment, i.e., the entire cycle from prevention and diagnosis to cure.
One big problem in India is the high cost of COVID-19 tests. Is there a cheaper option to find out whether someone is positive? Turns out AI has discovered several cheaper yet highly effective ways of detecting positivity.
Vaani Mitr is a tool developed by the Centre for Development of Advanced Computing (C-DAC) in Mohali, which uses AI to detect COVID-19 infection by analyzing the sound of coughing. All that a person need do is submit a brief recording of their coughing via a mobile phone or laptop. The system analyzes this to determine whether someone has COVID-19. Wadhwani AI is another company which has built a similar cough analysis tool to identify at-risk patients before lab-test results. Vaani Mitr is trained with a dataset of over 1,000 recordings of COVID-19 negative persons and over 300 of positive ones.
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