Elina Naydenova

Doctoral Candidate, University of Oxford

Fighting childhood pneumonia through AI

Prize Amount

$100,000 USD


Maharashtra, India


Pneumonia is the number one killer of children under the age of five, with nearly 1 million deaths annually. More than 95% of the cases and 99% of subsequent deaths occur in developing countries. Three countries are responsible for 56% of all pneumonia deaths: India, Nigeria and Pakistan, with India bearing the highest burden. A number of factors drive the disproportionately higher mortality rate in low-resource settings: 1- limited access to advanced equipment; 2- limited access to clinical expertise; and 3- weak primary care that fails to facilitate a health system’s response to a pneumonia diagnosis. There is an urgent need for affordable and accurate point-of-care diagnostic tools that enable minimally trained health workers to identify the disease and take appropriate action.

Project Description

Elina Naydenova’s project, ​Fighting childhood pneumonia through AI​, will implement a mobile health toolkit enabling regular pneumonia screening for children in India’s urban slum. The project builds on a clinical study which demonstrated the suitability of the technology for use in the poorest communities. The toolkit includes a mobile application that communicates with a digital stethoscope and a pulse oximeter; machine learning algorithms on the phone evaluate medical data acquired through the devices and identify pneumonia and its severity.

Project Novelty

The project is novel in its approach to create the first platform for child health that enables better diagnosis and monitoring through AI-driven analysis of clinical signals. Innovations in this space typically fall within three main categories: 1- new medical devices (hardware); 2- Mobile Health (mHealth) solutions (software) that automate existing observational guidelines; 3- vaccines. This platform supplements all hardware innovation by automating the interpretation of signals and also fusing information from multiple such devices through AI.

Project Lead

Elina Naydenova is a medical engineer. She is passionate about harnessing the power of technology and innovation to assist those in greatest need of obtaining quality health care. Elina has worked for the Social Innovation in Health Initiative, the World Health Organization as well as a number of philanthropic organizations such as Giving What We Can and Thare Machi Education. She holds an MSC in Biomedical Engineering and is currently a PhD candidate in Healthcare Innovation at the University of Oxford.


Oxford’s Centre for Affordable Healthcare Technology is a growing community of University of Oxford students, researchers and faculty passionate about solving societal challenges in resource-poor areas. We originally focused on healthcare projects that sought to leverage the community’s core strengths in telemedicine, mHealth, data mining, artificial intelligence and signal processing to improve automated diagnostics in low-resource resource areas; but we now aim to address broader societal challenges related to public service delivery, education, sustainability and the like in resource-poor regions.




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