New Delhi: A mobile application is helping bridge the gap in knowledge regarding tuberculosis for thousands of healthcare workers as the Central government strives to achieve its ambitious target to reduce the TB burden by 2025. After its initial launch in January 2022, the “Ni-kshay Setu” app has helped over 17,000 frontline healthcare workers and other staff at the district, state and national levels to gain knowledge regarding various aspects of the disease, including diagnosis, treatment, and assessment of their training through digital modules, according to officials.
As per the World Health Organisation (WHO), the total number of incident TB patients (new and relapse) in 2021 in India was 19,33,381, a 19 per cent rise compared to the previous year.
The Union government has set the aim to strategically reduce the TB burden in the country by 2025, five years ahead of the Sustainable Development Goals, under its National Tuberculosis Elimination Programme (NTEP).
“The Ni-kshay Setu application aims to boost the ability of healthcare workers to treat the patients by helping reduce the knowledge gap regarding the disease,” said Dr Harsh Shah, national coordinator of the TB project at the Gandhinagar-based Indian Institute of Public Health (IIPH) which developed it.
Since the launch of the second and updated version of the app earlier this month, it is attracting nearly a thousand users per week, Shah told PTI.
He said the number of additions keeps growing as the app expands its base to serve the requirements of healthcare workers across 35 states and Union Territories.
The need for the app was first felt after a survey covering 460 healthcare workers, more than 900 TB patients, frontline workers, state and district TB officials and private doctors etc. in Gujarat and Jharkhand revealed gaps in their knowledge regarding the bacterial disease.
“The knowledge assessment showed the gaps ranging from 20-45 per cent among different cadres. Knowledge on patient management and new case findings were the lowest scoring among all interviewed sections,” Shah said.
He said the “Ni-kshay Setu” helps users to assess presumptive TB patients as per their details and symptoms and provides decision-making algorithms to arrive at their diagnosis and treatment regimen.
“It also provides a geospatial mapping of health facilities along with the availability of services. There is also an interactive artificial intelligence (AI)-based chatbot to answer queries of users. This app is available in multiple languages with choice-based learning and real-time patient-centric care,” Shah said.
Additional Director of the Gujarat State TB Training and Demonstration Centre, Dr Pankaj Nimavat said the app is particularly good regarding diagnosis and treatment of the disease.
“Healthcare workers get to know where to refer the patients in case they suffer from adverse drug reactions and how to deal with the case,” Nimavat said.
He said the app is also helping in capacity building for healthcare workers as part of the government’s “End TB Strategy” by assessing workers and providing the facility for in-built tests before and after their training.
As per the WHO’s Global TB Report 2021, the estimated incidence of all forms of TB in India in 2020 was 188 per 100,000 population and the total number of incident TB patients (new and relapse) during 2021 was 19,33,381.