Malaria Parasite Detection using Efficient Neural Ensembles

Caused by the bite of the Anopheles mosquito infected with the parasite of genus Plasmodium, malaria has remained a major burden towards healthcare for years with an approximate 400,000 deaths reported globally every year. The traditional diagnosis process for malaria involves an examination of the blood smear slide under the microscope. This process is not only time consuming but also requires pathologists to be highly skilled in their work. Timely diagnosis and availability of robust diagnostic facilities and skilled laboratory technicians are very much vital to reduce the mortality rate. This study aims to build a robust system by applying deep learning techniques such as transfer learning and snapshot ensembling to automate the detection of the parasite in the thin blood smear images. All the models were evaluated against the following metrics - F1 score, Accuracy, Precision, Recall, Mathews Correlation Coefficient (MCC), Area Under the Receiver Operating Characteristics (AUC-ROC) and the Area under the Precision Recall curve (AUC-PR). The snapshot ensembling model created by combining the snapshots of the EfficientNet-B0 pre-trained model outperformed every other model achieving a f1 score - 99.37%, precision - 99.52% and recall - 99.23%. The results show the potential of model ensembles which combine the predictive power of multiple weal models to create a single efficient model that is better equipped to handle the real world data. The GradCAM experiment displayed the gradient activation maps of the last convolution layer to visually explicate where and what a model sees in an image to classify them into a particular class. The models in this study correctly activate the stained parasitic region of interest in the thin blood smear images. Such visuals make the model more transparent, explainable, and trustworthy which are very much essential for deploying AI based models in the healthcare network.

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Task Dataset Model Metric Name Metric Value Global Rank Benchmark
Medical Image Classification Malaria Dataset SNAPSHOT ENSEMBLE F1 score 99.37 # 1