Tuberculosis Control: Harnessing innovations to improve treatment adherence

GC-TBC program is seeding Indian innovators to improve TB treatment adherence through out-of-the-box innovations to enhance adherence

Nov 19, 2013 09:11 IST India Infoline News Service

The ‘Grand Challenges in Tuberculosis Control’ (GC-TBC) program,an initiative by the IKP Knowledge Park, Hyderabad recently announced the winners of $30,000 in grants for novel ideas for technology driven solutions that will substantially strengthen TB control in India. IKP Knowledge Park is India's premier science park and is leading this initiative in partnership with the U.S. Agency for International Developmentand the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation.
 
This year the GC-TBC program is seeding Indian innovators to improve TB treatment adherence through out-of-the-box innovations to enhance adherence. TB is a significant public health problem in India; TB treatment is lengthy, and adherence to the full course is essential but difficult.  Currently, patients in the public sector obtain medication through a Directly Observed Therapy, Short Course, or DOTS provider who dispenses doses under direct observation to ensure compliance, for a minimum of six months. Patients in the private sector receive little or no support to keep up the treatment, resulting in frequent interruptions and dangerous resistance to treatment drugs. Hence, technology-driven solutions to treatment monitoring are urgently needed to improve ease and access.
 
The GC-TBC challenge will enable scientists, researchers and entrepreneurs to develop new solutions through funding and rigorous mentoring. A select few will also be provided with networks and marketing channels to commercialize their innovations. The aim is to nurture ideas that are innovative with a possibility for societal impact, sustainable, can be scaled up for major impact, and which are aligned with goals of TB treatment adherence.Dr. R.S. Gupta, Deputy Director General of the Revised National TB Control Programme (RNTCP), Government of India endorsed the program at IKP's annual conference that was held on October 25-26, 2013. He believes that“Treatment adherence is the core of TB control”.
 
The first call for proposals was launched in June, 2013 and received 122 submissions, of which 15 teams have been selected through a 3 tier process.The selected teams will demonstrate a prototype that will be evaluated at the end of 6 months and 4 of these will be given additional funding of US$ 100,000 each. The selected ideas span the gamut from low-end and smart mobile phones with SMS/IVRS services to electronic pillboxes.

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