Automated smartphone-based cough audio classification for rapid tuberculosis triage testing (Cough Audio triaGE for TB) CAGE-TB. CAGE-TB aims to improve TB screening by using a smartphone app that can detect a TB cough. CAGE-TB TB cough audio will not replace normal TB testing but will be a way to filter patients most likely to have TB so that they can access specialized TB testing and care.
TB key facts?
- A total of 1.5 million people died from TB in 2020 (including 214 000 people with HIV). Worldwide, TB is the 13th leading cause of death and the second leading infectious killer after COVID-19 (above HIV/AIDS).
- In 2020, an estimated 10 million people fell ill with tuberculosis (TB) worldwide. 5.6 million men, 3.3 million women and 1.1 million children. TB is present in all countries and age groups. But TB is curable and preventable.
- In 2020, the 30 high TB burden countries accounted for 86% of new TB cases. Eight countries account for two thirds of new TB cases, with India leading the count, followed by China, Indonesia, the Philippines, Pakistan, Nigeria, Bangladesh and South Africa.
- An estimated 66 million lives were saved through TB diagnosis and treatment between 2000 and 2020.
- Ending the TB epidemic by 2030 is among the health targets of the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs).
The current TB screening methods are failing us
It is estimated that 10 million people had TB in 2020, but only 1.7million were +diagnosed with TB. The first step in diagnosing TB is to screen or filter patients for further testing. Currently, TB is screened using TB symptoms (cough, fever, night sweats and weight loss).
- TB symptoms are non-specific and can point to many diseases other than TB. This results in too many patients being tested for TB using very expensive tests.
- Patients may feel reluctant to talk about their symptoms to healthcare workers
- Symptoms can develop slowly and not be noticed by the individual especially if they are frequently sick from other sources than TB
- Persons with TB may ignore symptoms like a cough and not access healthcare until very ill
What is CAGE-TB?
A new TB screening solution to change how TB patients are referred for testing. CAGE-TB aims to develop a universal smartphone-based app specifically to detect TB in a cough sound with African patients and health systems in mind. A cough smartphone app can save time in health centres and prevent unnecessary TB testing burden in the health system.
- What if a person could cough into a smartphone app and gets a recommendation to either directly access TB or general health care?
- What if this could be done either in the comfort of their home or at their local clinic?
- What if your smartphone app could help make your clinic appointment, remind you of the appointments and save you time?
CAGE-TB, is Time Saving
- Asking patients TB symptom screening questions is time-consuming for health workers in clinics
- A cough is the classic symptom of TB, but can be overlooked because it is so common
- Many patients that do not ultimately have TB, after symptom screening, undergo uncomfortable processes to get sputum needed for TB tests
- The health system is currently flooded with too many sputum TB tests that will come back negative which delays the time for TB tests results and costs the health system millions each year
- A more accurate TB screening approach will mean fewer patients will need to feel anxious awaiting TB test results
- Healthcare workers will have fewer patients to unnecessarily process for TB testing and can focus on providing health care for more patients who are likely to have TB