February 25, 2021
Malaria Journal

Performance of a fully‐automated system on a WHO malaria microscopy evaluation slide set

Matthew P. Horning, Charles B. Delahunt, Christine M. Bachman, Jennifer Luchavez, Christian Luna, Liming Hu, Mayoore S. Jaiswal, Clay M. Thompson, Sourabh Kulhare, Samantha Janko, Benjamin K. Wilson, Travis Ostbye, Martha Mehanian, Roman Gebrehiwot, Grace Yun, David Bell, Stephane Proux, Jane Y. Carter, Wellington Oyibo, Dionicia Gamboa, Mehul Dhorda, Ranitha Vongpromek, Peter L. Chiodini, Bernhards Ogutu, Earl G. Long, Kyaw Tun, Thomas R. Burkot, Ken Lilley, Courosh Mehanian

Manual microscopy remains a widely-used tool for malaria diagnosis and clinical studies, but it has inconsistent quality in the field due to variability in training and field practices. Automated diagnostic systems based on machine learning hold promise to improve quality and reproducibility of field microscopy. The World Health Organization (WHO) has designed a 55-slide set (WHO 55) for their External Competence Assessment of Malaria Microscopists (ECAMM) programme, which can also serve as a valuable benchmark for automated systems. The performance of a fully-automated malaria diagnostic system, EasyScan GO, on a WHO 55 slide set was evaluated.BackgroundThe WHO 55 slide set is designed to evaluate microscopist competence in three areas of malaria diagnosis using Giemsa-stained blood films, focused on crucial field needs: malaria parasite detection, malaria parasite species identification (ID), and malaria parasite quantitation. The EasyScan GO is a fully-automated system that combines scanning of Giemsa-stained blood films with assessment algorithms to deliver malaria diagnoses. This system was tested on a WHO 55 slide set.MethodsThe EasyScan GO achieved 94.3 % detection accuracy, 82.9 % species ID accuracy, and 50 % quantitation accuracy, corresponding to WHO microscopy competence Levels 1, 2, and 1, respectively. This is, to our knowledge, the best performance of a fully-automated system on a WHO 55 set.ResultsEasyScan GO’s expert ratings in detection and quantitation on the WHO 55 slide set point towards its potential value in drug efficacy use-cases, as well as in some case management situations with less stringent species ID needs. Improved runtime may enable use in general case management settings.

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