The Grand Challenges in TB Control (GC-TBC) is an initiative to encourage and nurture innovation that will better address the TB treatment adherence scene, a major challenge in the field of TB disease management and control. IKP Knowledge Park (IKP), the United States Agency for International Development (USAID), and the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation (Foundation) are working together to identify, fund, and nurture technology driven solutions that will assist TB control.
India has the highest number of TB victims, with an estimated incidence of 2.2 million cases out of a global incidence of 8.7 million cases (WHO 2011). The problem of TB in India is exacerbated by interruption in treatment adherence, and this has led to evolution of several mutant strains that are drug resistant. Treatment for TB is a significantly long process, and adherence to treatment can sometimes be compromised.
“We believe in crowd sourcing of ideas, and will focus on innovations that improve the process of TB treatment adherence, to ensure better cure rates, and curtail the spread of TB and potential mutant strains”, adds GS-TBC.
In the first Call for Proposals (launched on June 15, 2013) ideas that will better administer treatment adherence and those that can be deployed across the diverse and heterogeneous settings of India (e.g. urban or rural, with or without mobile access) are invited. GS-TBC is open to funding different novel approaches, including, for example, devices (e.g. pill bottle) or systems (e.g. interactive phone software) that communicate in real or near-real time with caregivers or providers when medications are missed, or RFID based tablets/strips. The proposed solution should be flexible, easily deployable and scalable, so as to greatly expand the settings in which TB therapy can be safely administered.
The June 2013 Call for Proposals launched seeks to fund innovations that address the following aspects of treatment adherence:
1. Automated monitoring of intake of treatment regimen by patient
2. Automated reporting of intake of treatment regimen to healthcare provider / doctor
3. Reporting to Nikshay / RNTCP of patient data
4. Novel methods of Incentivizing patient to follow treatment regimen
5. Integration with services offered by public/private healthcare providers
Winners of the challenge will be eligible for a Phase I funding of US$ 30,000 for a period of 6 months to develop a prototype of their adherence monitoring system. Select candidates will later be eligible for a Phase II funding of up to US$ 100,000 to
integrate their system(s) into the fabric of the healthcare of service providers in India. Apart from the funding, IKP Knowledge Park and the partners will also closely work with the chosen candidates; provide them technical and business strategy advice, as also access to synergistic networks within the nation and outside; factors that would be critical to making an innovation a medical and commercial success.
The GC-TBC initiative has been setup to address the global health challenge of TB Control by encouraging entrepreneurship through technology innovation, and enabling the integration of such innovations with the public and private health care systems. Through GC-TBC scientists /researchers / entrepreneurs will be empowered to develop new solutions and will be giving the funding and rigorous mentorship required to develop their innovations.
IKP, USAID and the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation have established GC-TBC as a unique grant program to fund out-of-the-box innovations in TB control and work with grantees for two years to help establish the proof-of-concept and bring grantees the deep collective experience of global mentors, resources and networks.
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