India's southern state Telangana has announced that it will adopt the Microsoft Intelligent Network for Eyecare (MINE), an AI platform, to reduce avoidable blindness thus becoming the first State in the country to deploy artificial intelligence for Rashtriya Bal Swasthya Karyakram (RBSK), its eye care screening programme for children.

It has also decided to adopt Microsoft’s cloud-based analytics for same.

Notably, in December 2016 Microsoft Intelligent Network for Eyecare (MINE) was launched in collaboration between Microsoft and L.V Prasad Eye Institute, a not-for-profit & non-government eye care institute located at Hyderabad. MINE was launched in order to apply artificial intelligence to help in the elimination of avoidable blindness and scale delivery of eyecare services worldwide.

Telangana state government and Microsoft had in November 2016 signed an MoU to use the latter’s cloud technology to drive citizen services and digital inclusion. Under the MoU, the Microsoft India conducted a cloud-based, advanced analytics pilot project to understand the health screening programme among children from birth to 18 years in 10 districts, a press release said.

The process involved health screenings of school students, carried out by mobile health teams under the Rashtriya Bal Swasthya Karyakram, under the National Health Mission. The pilot project, using Microsoft’s advanced analytics, helped the State government get insights by highlighting major conditions affecting the health of children.

The project was now being scaled to a full-fledged solution. One of the insights already derived indicated that vision impairment was one of the most prevalent health issues among children. The State government has decided to adopt MINE to address this issue which would help them make in early interventions and preventing or treating instances of refractive errors, the release said.

As a matter of fact, 285 Million people in the world are visually impaired, and 55 Million of them live in India. Microsoft’s focus area in this effort is machine learning. Under the MINE project, Microsoft will deploy the Cortana Intelligence Suite for advanced analytics and to build Artificial Intelligence models on eyecare. Telangana will be the first state in India to get all the benefits of machine learning technology for state's people.

IT Minister K.T. Rama Rao said the collaboration between the Health and IT departments and Microsoft has resulted in a solution that would make a huge difference to the lives of the people in the country, starting with Telangana. IT Secretary Jayesh Ranjan said the initiative, in partnership with the Microsoft, can potentially touch up to 60 lakh children who would be screened for health conditions under the RBSK.

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