AVPN Constellations profile: AI in Public Health


Alliance magazine


AVPN Constellations highlights the ways in which AVPN members are ‘addressing the complex problems of our times with stellar interconnected solutions, leveraging the power of networks for greater impact’. In addition to our coverage of the AVPN Virtual Conference 2020Alliance magazine is taking a look at each of the five winners in turn. Today:

AI in Public Health

AVPN Members: International Innovation Corps, University of Chicago Trust & The Rockefeller Foundation
Estimated total financial contribution: $199,123
Country of activity: India
Corresponding SDG: 3 – good health and well-being; 9 – industry, innovation and infrastructure

A four-member IIC team has been placed with the eHealth Division of the Ministry of Health and Family Welfare (MoHFW) in India, where the project’s primary goal is to enable an ecosystem whereby emerging technologies can be channelled toward achieving better health outcomes and lead India closer to achieving SDG 3.

This project is looking to build the government’s capacity to understand and apply emerging technologies like AI within its programmatic activities, and assist the government with policy development to enable and regulate AI in public health. In digital health, technological initiatives – some even using AI – exist. However, they suffer from bias due to inaccurate data and usually do not reach scale because they do not work alongside the government.

Whilst there have been efforts to deploy technology in health, AI in Public Health states that the benefits have been highly localised and fragmented, especially developing economies. In the absence of an integrated system, health service providers don’t have reliable data to provide efficient and quality services to the populations who need it most.

An initiative such as this, infusing ecosystems thinking into digital health, would then lead to speedy access of one’s own health records, and allow health service providers to have reliable data in order to provide efficient and quality services to populations who need it the most.

The IIC team has forged a collaboration with Wadhwani AI, bringing them on board as technical support partners in the capacity building, data scoping and use-case identification work being carried on it by the MoHFW.

Emerging technologies can be potential game-changers for public health, especially in low-resource settings. They can enable community health workers to better serve patients in remote areas, prevent deadly disease outbreaks, assist in affordable and easy screening in far-flung areas with a shortage of human resources, etc.

Unlike other actors, AI in Public Health has readily engaged with the government to help them think through these ecosystems. This collaboration allows then for government to become a champion of AI in healthcare, rather than a gatekeeper.

The initiative focuses on creating impact through multi-stakeholder engagement, something that the government is unable to undertake fully, and using these platforms to drive ecosystems consensus on key policy changes. The initiative also understands and incubates the inter-relations between policy and product development and works on both simultaneously so that the two work streams can mutually reinforce each other.

Read about the other winners:

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