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Government exploring potential of AI in public health: Harsh Vardhan

ANI | July 13, 2019 04:03 PM
Union Health Minister Harsh Vardhan (File photo)

New Delhi (India), July 13 (ANI): Union government is exploring the potential of Artificial Intelligence (AI) in public health, especially in building database of cancer-related radiology and pathology images, the Lok Sabha was informed on Friday.

In a written reply, the government said it was also examining AI's potential in reducing fraud and abuse in Ayushman Bharat, the most ambitious health care program of the Modi government.

"The potential of AI in public health is being explored in our country. The health ministry is working towards using AI in a safe and effective way. Imaging Biobank for cancer is one of the few of the initiatives undertaken by the government to use AI in public health," Union Health Minister Harsh Vardhan said.

He also expressed hope that AI will soon be a "big movement" in the country.

He said NITI Aayog with Department of Bio-Technology (DBT) aims to build a database of cancer-related radiology and pathology images of more than 20,000 profiles of cancer patients with a focus on major cancers prevalent in India along with the associated annotations and labels from clinical data for effective use of AI in cancer management.

"Besides this, the NITI Aayog is also working on using AI for early detection of diabetic retinopathy. The DBT has issued a call for pre-proposals on use of AI in the area of tuberculosis and pulmonary diseases, ophthalmological diseases, genetic and rare disorders and neurological disorders," he said.

To a question on the comprehensive assessment of the areas in which AI can be used in public health management, the Minister said it is being examined for making AI more effective and accessible.

"AI solutions can augment the scarce personnel and lab facilities, help overcome the barriers to access through early detection, diagnosis and treatment," he said.

He said the potential areas for AI implementation in public health management includes teleradiology, teleophthalmology, Clinical Decision Support System (CDSS), Natural Language Processing (NLP) for health data and early detection of diseases.

Harsh Vardhan said the government also intends to use AI in reducing fraud and abuse in Ayushman Yojna ecosystem and preserving the privacy of personal information of the beneficiaries of the scheme.

"I can assure you that in Artificial Intelligence, we are going to be one of the important nations in the times to come and we will use it in a big way to see that most of the unresolved issues of this country are helped and solved through the domain of Artificial Intelligence," he said.

Responding to a supplementary by BJP's Aparajita Sarangi on the slow pace of AI work in India as compared to the United States and some other foreign countries, he said the government was moving ahead very "systematically" in a meticulous manner.

"Maybe, we may not be using it to the extent to which USA or UK may be using, but I can tell you that our working in this field is comparable to any good nation of the whole world. In the times to come, you will find that this will be a big movement in the country," Harsh Vardhan said. (ANI)

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