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Indian Hospitals are using cameras, tags, lasers to curb Baby trafficking and theft

Indian hospitals are educating their staff to spot baby thieves amid fears that baby trafficking is becoming an organized crime nationwide

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Activists of Socialist Unity Center of India-Marxist (SUCI-M) protest a recent case of child trafficking in West Bengal state in Kolkata, India, Nov. 29, 2016. Officials busted a child trafficking racket and rescued more than 20 children, according to news reports
Activists of Socialist Unity Center of India-Marxist (SUCI-M) protest a recent case of child trafficking in West Bengal state in Kolkata, India, Nov. 29, 2016. Officials busted a child trafficking racket and rescued more than 20 children, according to news reports. VOA

Hospitals in India are starting to tag newborns, mothers, and medics as well as installing extra security cameras and educating staff to spot baby thieves amid fears that baby trafficking is becoming an organized crime nationwide.

Officials said this was part of a drive starting at government hospitals in southern Tamil Nadu state to ensure nurses, doctors and visitors know of the threat of babies being stolen from maternity wards and babies being sold illegally for adoption that is baby trafficking.

At the Rajaji government hospital in Madurai, the first in Tamil Nadu to introduce the program, laser beams at exit points trigger alarms if untagged adults take babies out in order to curb baby trafficking.

“We just want to prevent the theft of babies,” N.K. Mahalakshmi, the doctor in charge of laser tagging at the hospital, told the Thomson Reuters Foundation. “It is not fool proof but a deterrent. … Our hospital staff has also been told to be extra vigilant.”

Traffickers, officials sometimes collude

Campaigners have raised concerns that traffickers are often colluding with officials to steal babies from maternity wards and illegally sell them for adoption which is baby trafficking.

Mumbai police arrested a gang for convincing single mothers to sell their babies last year, while in West Bengal police found newborns being stolen from mothers in medical clinics after staff told them that their babies were stillborn.

Dev Ananth, a child protection officer in Tirunelveli district, said the state government is investigating several cases where hospital staff persuaded mothers to sell their babies for about 10,000 Indian rupees ($156).

Tirunelveli district will put posters up in every hospital, alerting pregnant women, families, and staff to the dangers of baby trafficking in overcrowded corridors.

“Many don’t see it as a trafficking issue,” he said.

“We are going to train hospital staff to identify potential cases, including what to do if a baby is abandoned at birth. At present, the do’s and don’ts are not clear.”

No official data on baby trafficking

There is no official data on the number of babies stolen from hospitals in Tamil Nadu, but almost 180,000 children were born in government facilities in 2016, statistics show.

More than four out of 10 of human trafficking cases in India in 2015 involved children being bought, sold and exploited as modern-day slaves, according to crime figures.

“Public hospitals are vulnerable spaces where there are no effective ways to monitor access to newborn babies,” said Paul Sunder Singh of the children’s charity Karunalaya. (VOA)

Next Story

Google Claims Eye Doctors Can Turn More Effective Using AI

Without assistance, general ophthalmologists are significantly less accurate than the algorithm, while retina specialists are not significantly more accurate than the algorithm. 

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The research team at Google AI believes that some of these pitfalls may be avoided if the computer can "explain" its predictions. Pixabay

As Artificial Intelligence (AI) continues to evolve, diagnosing diseases has become faster with greater accuracy. A new study from the Google AI research group shows that physicians and algorithms working together are more effective than either one alone.

In the study, to be published in the journal Ophthalmology, the researchers created a system which not only improved the ophthalmologists’ diagnostic accuracy but also improved the algorithm’s accuracy.

The study expands on previous work from Google AI showing that its algorithm works roughly as well as human experts in screening patients for a common diabetic eye disease called diabetic retinopathy.

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To test this theory, ten ophthalmologists (four general ophthalmologists, one trained outside the US, four retina specialists, and one retina specialist in training) were asked to read images with and without algorithm assistance. Pixabay

“What we found is that AI can do more than simply automate eye screening, it can assist physicians in more accurately diagnosing diabetic retinopathy. AI and physicians working together can be more accurate than either one alone,” said lead researcher Rory Sayres.

Recent advances in AI promise to improve access to diabetic retinopathy screening and to improve its accuracy. But it’s less clear how AI will work in the physician’s office or other clinical settings, the team said.

According to the team, previous attempts to use computer-assisted diagnosis shows that some screeners rely on the machine too much, which leads to repeating the machine’s errors, or under-rely on it and ignore accurate predictions.

The research team at Google AI believes that some of these pitfalls may be avoided if the computer can “explain” its predictions.

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Recent advances in AI promise to improve access to diabetic retinopathy screening and to improve its accuracy. But it’s less clear how AI will work in the physician’s office or other clinical settings, the team said. Pixabay

To test this theory, ten ophthalmologists (four general ophthalmologists, one trained outside the US, four retina specialists, and one retina specialist in training) were asked to read images with and without algorithm assistance.

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Without assistance, general ophthalmologists are significantly less accurate than the algorithm, while retina specialists are not significantly more accurate than the algorithm.

With assistance, general ophthalmologists match but do not exceed the model’s accuracy, while retina specialists start to exceed the model’s performance. (IANS)