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South Africa Turning to AI to Fight one of its Deadliest Diseases

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South Africa is turning to artificial intelligence (AI) to help the country in its fight to end its tuberculosis (TB) epidemic by 2030.

The Department of Health recently hosted a conference to discuss how AI can accelerate the screening and diagnosis of TB and silicosis.

As a member of the United Nations, South Africa has committed to the Sustainable Development Goal (SDG) to bring the TB epidemic to an end by 2030.

To reach this goal, South Africa must decrease TB deaths by 90% and TB cases by 80% by the end of the decade.

According to WHO’s 2023 Global TB Report, 54,200 South Africans died from TB in 2023. Although annual cases have steadily decreased, much remains to be done to end the epidemic.

Stats SA’s Mortality Report for 2020 lists TB as the sixth biggest killer among natural causes of death.

In a Newzroom Afrika interview, a doctor at the conference explained that South Africa’s mining history is correlated with the high prevalence of tuberculosis.

Mining involves a lot of blasting — using explosives to break up rock for excavation. This leaves behind silica or silicon dioxide, which many miners inhale when drilling into the rock.

Inhaling the silica causes pulmonary fibrosis — tissue swelling in the lungs.

In this case, the government hopes to screen potential silicosis patients using computer-aided detection (CAD) that employs AI.

This helps to implement measures to prevent the contraction of TB once diagnosed with silicosis.

Source : MyBroadband