Bengaluru: Drone replaces health workers at oral cancer screening camp | Bengaluru News

BENGALURU: In a recent trial at a city college, a custommade drone donned the role of health workers by ferrying a pouch containing small instruments to conduct oral screening of construction labourers on the campus.
No Asha (Accredited Social Health Activist) worker or doctor was present at the oral cancer screening camp. It was held at Jyothy Institute of Technology (JIT) with technical assistance from HCG Hospital’s oral oncology department a fortnight ago.
The instruments in the drone’s pouch included a foldscope (optical microscope known as one-dollar microscope), slides and brush biopsy equipment. Besides the drone, only a trained volunteer was involved in the screening, which included taking the swab sample using the brush biopsy equipment.
The swab sample on the glass slide was examined with a foldscope from which the images were transferred to a phone. These images were later WhatsApped to a lab at HCG Hospital where doctors checked them for further diagnosis.
The drone, called Drone-ASHA, was developed at the Centre for Incubation, Innovation, Research and Consultancy (CIIRC), a joint initiative of Sri Sharada Peetham, Sringeri, and Jyothy Institute of Technology. “The drone weighed not more than 400g, while the equipment it carried was a little less than 100g. Its carrying capacity can be enhanced, depending on the requirement and payload capacity. The idea was to show the proof of concept,” said Krishna Venkatesh, director, CIIRC.
Oral cancer screening needs to be widespread in the state, but the process is yet to kickstart. “It has to be done by Asha workers, but they are already burdened. It is high time we used technology to reach out to the needy in remote corners where screening can be done without a doctor or an Asha worker,” said Dr Vishal Rao US, chief, head and neck oncology services at HCG, who spearheaded the trial run of the DroneAsha at JIT.
Pilot run in Doddane
There are plans to commission a government-assisted project using DroneAsha at Doddane village in Chamarajanagar district. The village lacks medical facilities and has seen several cases of tobacco addicts losing their voice to oral cancer.

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