July 20, 2023

ITU, WHO and WIPO launch global initiative „AI for Health“: Leading role for Fraunhofer HHI

July 20, 2023

At the AI for Good Summit in Geneva in July 2023 the Global Initiative on AI for Health (GI-AI4H) was officially launched. The International Telecommunication Union (ITU), the World Health Organization (WHO) and the World Intellectual Property Organization (WIPO) will work together under the newly formed initiative to improve healthcare worldwide through the use of artificial intelligence (AI). Key goals include standardization, global collaboration and on-the-ground implementation.

The new initiative builds on the preliminary work of the ITU-WHO focus group "AI for Health".  The focus group operated from 2018 to 2023 and was chaired by Prof. Thomas Wiegand, Executive Director at the Fraunhofer Heinrich Hertz Institute (HHI). Prof. Wiegand will also take a leading role in the work of GI-AI4H. The transition from the temporary focus group to the sustainable GI-AI4H is timely. There is a great need for standards and guidelines for AI in healthcare. The new initiative aims to significantly improve diagnosis, treatment and efficiency and is open to all interested parties.

The GI-AI4H has set out to address three topics: (1) The development of strategies and standards. In doing so, the initiative will develop standards and recommendations for the use of AI to provide universal healthcare. (2) To facilitate knowledge transfer, data sharing, and collaboration among various stakeholders worldwide through regular meetings, workshops, and digital communication channels. (3) To strengthen health systems in individual countries, GI-AI4H will identify, evaluate, and promote AI innovations in collaboration with local partners. Open source implementations that meet GI-AI4H standards will drive global health innovation. Through a scaling program, GI-AI4H prioritizes low- and middle-income countries. This program will initially include 12-18 countries where particularly relevant AI use cases will be explored.

AI has great potential in the health sector. With the global initiative, ITU, WHO and WIPO want to ensure that this potential can be used to improve the health of all people worldwide. The GI-AI4H framework not only promotes innovation, but also enables equitable access to knowledge.

The GI-AI4H will be led by a joint steering committee composed of three senior members each from WHO, ITU and WIPO. An associated committee of non-UN partners will also provide important input. The initiative will be advised by informal expert groups. From Germany, in addition to Fraunhofer HHI, representatives of university hospitals such as Charité, the Hasso Plattner Institute and some industrial companies are participating in GI-AI4H.