Bengaluru: ACT, a non-profit venture philanthropy platform, recently brought Periwinkle Technologies, Niramai Health Analytix and Navya Care on board the ACT For Health portfolio to improve access to affordable, quality cancer care for Bharat. ACT For Health will provide catalytic grant funding, accelerate scale of the solutions by providing key network interventions, and enable widespread ecosystem adoption.

Neetha Joy, Director – ACT For Health, said, “ACT For Health aims to improve access to quality and affordable healthcare by supporting digital/medtech/deeptech innovations & we believe in backing social entrepreneurs like Dr. Geetha, Veena & Gitika who are deeply invested in addressing the need gap for India’s vulnerable population. We’re proud to support Periwinkle, Niramai & Navya Care with helping India 3 access affordable cancer care through early detection & compliant treatment protocols.”

Early breast cancer detection is the key to improving patient survival but 60% of breast cancer patients in India are diagnosed only at an advanced stage (stages III and IV). Niramai’s low-cost, non-invasive, portable & radiation-free AI-based engine detects thermal signatures for abnormalities & aims to accelerate early-stage cancer detection and treatment.

Speaking on the collaboration, Dr. Geetha Manjunath, Founder – Niramai, said, “While mammography is the global standard for breast screening, it is less effective in detecting cancer in women with dense breast tissue. Thermalytix’s high cancer detection accuracy on dense breast tissue and its privacy-aware radiation-free experience makes it ideal for Indian women. We look forward to partnering with ACT For Health on conducting the breast cancer screening program in Andhra Pradesh that’ll help 5000+ women & aid the replication of such programs across India.”

Cervical cancer is the second most common cancer among women in India; accounting for 18.3% of new cases. While the pap smear test is effective, it is both time and cost-intensive; especially for women in rural India. Periwinkle’s Smart Scope® CX is a handheld device that enables health workers to detect cervical cancer at an early stage, thus reducing the high mortality caused by late diagnosis.

Veena Moktali, CEO – Periwinkle Technologies, says, “Smart Scope captures images of the cervix without the need for electricity, space, or other infrastructure. The sensitivity of the AI-enabled test is around 88-90%, which is quite high compared to a pap smear, and the test results can be obtained within 5 mins. With ACT For Health’s support, we’ll be conducting an operational study in Chhattisgarh, by screening 2500+ women, to establish the benefits of Smart Scope against the prevalent naked eye VIA test.”

Delivering cancer care that complies with standard clinical guidelines is often impacted due to the shortage of oncologists in the country. Navya Care’s AI-based Earth shot Engine is a simple digital user interface through which non-clinical staff can enter patient data. It then maps that data to NCG (National Cancer Grid) and NCCN (National Comprehensive Cancer Network) guidelines to determine compliant treatment protocols.

Gitika Srivastava, Co-founder – Navya Care, says, “With ACT For Health’s support, Navya will be developing the ‘Earth shot Engine’ – a cancer informatics system that will scale access to quick, personalised, guideline-based treatment recommendations for breast, lung and oral cancers. Our goal is to standardise cancer care irrespective of a patient’s location or socioeconomic status. This will help patients save time as well as money and improve clinical outcomes in cancer care.”

Sandeep Singhal, Advisor – ACT For Health, says, “Niramai, Navya & Periwinkle are each pioneering cutting edge health-tech solutions to address the access to affordability gap on cancer care in India. They’re the kind of founders that we, as ACT, love to work with because they’re committed to driving large-scale positive health outcomes at affordable price points.”

By Praveen