Health Life

Landmark recommendations on development of artificial intelligence and the future of global health

Credit: CC0 Public Domain

A landmark review of the role of artificial intelligence (AI) in the future of global health published in The Lancet calls on the global health community to establish guidelines for development and deployment of new technologies and to develop a human-centered research agenda to facilitate equitable and ethical use of AI. The review and recommendations were developed by Nina Schwalbe, MPH, adjunct professor in the Heilbrunn Department of Population and Family Health at the Columbia University Mailman School of Public Health, and Principal Visiting Fellow at United Nations University—International Institute for Global Health, and Brian Wahl, Ph.D., assistant acientist in the Department of International Health at the Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health.

Advances in information technology infrastructure and mobile computing power in many low and middle-income countries (LMICs) have raised hopes that AI could help to address challenges which are unique to the field of global health and accelerate the achievement of the health-related Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) and Universal Health Coverage (UHC). However, the deployment of AI-enabled interventions must be exercised with care and caution for individuals and societies to benefit equally, especially in the current context of the digital tools and systems being rapidly deployed in response to the novel coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19).

“Especially during the COVID-19 emergency, we cannot ignore what we know about the importance of human-centered design and gender bias of algorithms,” said Schwalbe. “Thinking through how AI interventions will be adapted within the context of the health systems in which they are deployed must be part of every study.”

“This review marks an important point in our rapidly developing digital age at which to reflect on the impressive opportunities that AI may hold, but also consider what we are urgently missing to protect those most at risk—exciting