Published 06 Feb 2024

AI & TB Screening in Myanmar: The PATH Story



The conversation between Dr. Shibu Vijayan and Dr. Kyawzin Thann explores the implementation and impact of artificial intelligence (AI) and X-ray screening in tuberculosis (TB) control programs in Myanmar. Dr. Thann shares insights from PATH's collaboration with the Myanmar Medical Association, detailing the success of TB case detection through AI-assisted chest X-rays and plans for expanding AI utilization in TB screening, especially among hard-to-reach populations and pediatric cases. 
Dr. Shibu Vijayan interviews Dr. Kyawzin Thann, a program manager for TB and HIV at PATH, discussing his extensive experience in TB and HIV treatment and control, particularly in Myanmar. Dr. Thann highlights his journey from a general practitioner to a program manager involved in significant projects like Challenge TB and collaborations with the Union. 
Synopsis of Discussion 
1. AI in TB Screening: Dr. Thann recounts the TB Reach Wave 7 project's success in implementing chest X-ray CAD (Computer-Aided Detection) as an innovative intervention for TB screening in Myanmar. This project significantly aided in detecting TB cases among household contacts and walk-in clients, despite challenges posed by COVID-19 and political instability. 
2. Engagement with the Private Sector: The project also focused on engaging the private sector, using AI-assisted X-ray as a tool to increase case finding and TB notification in the country. Dr. Thann emphasizes the positive feedback from private doctors on AI's support in clinical decision-making. 
3. Expanding AI Technology in TB Detection: Through a new USAID grant, PATH plans to expand the use of AI technology and ultra-portable X-rays for active case finding, aiming to reach hard-to-reach areas and migrant populations in regions like Yangon. 
4. Integrated Care Delivery and Beyond: Dr. Thann shares plans for an integrated care delivery platform that includes TB, COVID-19, HIV, malaria, and HCV, leveraging AI technology to optimize case finding and treatment. This approach aims to expand beyond TB to achieve universal health coverage and improve primary healthcare. 
The discussion concludes with Dr. Thann encouraging TB practitioners to adopt advanced technologies like AI to accelerate TB case-finding efforts. He highlights the importance of publishing the outcomes of projects like TB Reach and the USAID grant to share successful strategies with the broader TB control community. Dr. Vijayan expresses support for PATH's initiatives and the potential for these approaches to be expanded beyond Myanmar, contributing to global TB control and integrated healthcare delivery efforts. 

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