Wednesday April 25, 2018

How a phone call is saving lives of TB patients in India

The traditional medication adherence programme "Directly Observed Treatment" or "DOTS" involved the patients going to a healthcare centre where they ingest the medication in front of a health worker

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A phone call is saving patients from TB. IANS
A phone call is saving patients from TB. IANS
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  • Can a phone call save lives?
  • A project called 99DOTS helps patients with Tuberculosis in India get medication
  • TB is one of the top 10 causes of deaths globally

In a world flooded with technological advancements, can a phone call save lives? This is happening as part of a project developed by software giant Microsoft in India.

The project, named “99DOTS”, which began in 2013 helps patients with Tuberculosis in India get medication adherence and monitoring via missed calls and SMSes.

From a modest pilot involving just 20 patients in early 2014, 99DOTS has enrolled over 93,000 patients in just four years, with 41,000 patients currently under treatment.

Rohingya Children
Tuberculosis causes lots of death every year. VOA

“99DOTS is a great example of such a project, where we’ve invented a very simple but unusually effective technology to solve a global health problem. And we are making this technology openly available to the global health community,” Sriram Rajamani, Managing Director, Microsoft Research India, said in a statement.

TB is one of the top 10 causes of deaths globally, with 10.4 million people falling ill with the disease and 1.7 million related deaths reported in 2016 alone. India leads the count in TB chart even though free and effective medications are available, according to the World Health Organisation.

Also Read: A new substance may help fight tuberculosis: study

“One of the biggest barriers to recovery from TB is medication adherence,” Bill Thies, senior Researcher at the Microsoft Researcher India, said in a statement.

“Patients have to take daily drugs for a full six months or else they do not fully recover, and are at risk of developing drug resistance.” However, “once patients start feeling better after a few weeks, it becomes very difficult to convince them to take toxic drugs for another five months – especially if patients have little or no understanding of germs and antibiotic resistance”, Thies rued.

This is where “99DOTS” project plays a significant role. In the project, each anti-TB blister pack is wrapped in a custom envelope, which hides a phone number behind the medication. When a patient dispenses his or her pills, they can see these hidden numbers. After taking daily medication, patients make a free call to the number.

A new substance may help fight tuberculosis: study
This helpline help patients get medication on time. Wikimedia Commons

The combination of the call and patient’s caller ID yields high confidence that the dose was “in-hand” and they took it, Thies said. The team also developed an SMS reminder system for patients. Missed doses trigger SMS notifications to care providers, who follow up with personal or phone-based counselling. The traditional medication adherence programme “Directly Observed Treatment” or “DOTS” involved the patients going to a healthcare centre where they ingest the medication in front of a health worker.

“99DOTS gives the patients the freedom and ownership of their treatment. They are able to take the medication wherever they are. It also provides them the privacy of not having to visit a health centre,” explained Andrew Cross who was earlier Programme Manager at Microsoft Research and teamed up with Thies to build up 99DOTS. IANS

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Novel Security Tools Announced By Microsoft

Microsoft launches new security tools for IoT, Edge devices!

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The logo of Microsoft
Microsoft Logo. Pixabay

To help enterprises secure their data and networks against growing cyber attacks, Microsoft has announced new intelligent security tools and technologies for Internet of Things (IoT) and edge devices.

The company introduced “Azure Sphere”, the industry’s first holistic platform to create secured, connected microcontroller unit (MCU) devices on the “intelligent edge”.

MCU-powered devices are the most populous area of computing, with roughly nine billion new devices every year.

The company also unveiled several new intelligent security features for its Microsoft 365 commercial Cloud offering — designed to help IT and security professionals simplify how they manage security across their enterprises.

Microsoft's building.
The office building of Microsoft. Pixabay

“As last year’s devastating cyber attacks demonstrated, security threats are evolving and becoming even more serious,” Microsoft President Brad Smith said in a statement late on Monday.

“The tech sector’s innovations need to accelerate to outpace security threats. Today’s steps bring important security advances not just to the cloud, but to the billions of new devices that are working on the edge of the world’s computer networks,” Smith added.

MCUs are found in everything — from toys and household appliances to industrial equipment – and with “Azure Sphere”, Microsoft extends the boundaries of the “intelligent edge” power and secure this category of devices.

To help teams stay prepared and ahead of threats, the company released “Microsoft Secure Score” and “Attack Simulator”.

“Secure Score” makes it easier for organisations to determine which controls to enable to help protect users, data and devices by quickly assessing readiness and providing an overall security benchmark score.

“Attack Simulatora, part of Office 365 Threat Intelligence, lets security teams run simulated attacks — including mock ransomware and phishing campaigns — to event-test their employees’ responses and tune configurations accordingly.

With the latest Windows 10 update, now in preview, “Windows Defender Advanced Threat Protection” (ATP) works across other parts of Microsoft 365 to include threat protection and remediation spanning Office 365, Windows and Azure.

Also Read: Microsoft brings enhanced security features to Office 365

“Also available today in preview, and with the upcoming Windows 10 update, are new automated investigation and remediation capabilities in Windows Defender ATP, leveraging Artificial Intelligence and Machine Learning to quickly detect and respond to threats on endpoints, within seconds, at scale,” the company said.

It also announced a new “Microsoft Intelligent Security Association” for security technology partners so they can benefit from, and contribute to.

Members of the association will be able to create more integrated solutions for customers that provide greater protection and detect attacks more quickly.  IANS