ITU/WHO Focus Group on “AI for Health” holds its sixth workshop and meeting in Zanzibar, Tanzania

From September 2 to 5, 2019, the ITU/WHO Focus Group on “AI for Health” (FG-AI4H) held its sixth workshop and meeting in Zanzibar, Tanzania. Highlights of the workshop include keynote presentations from Prof. Thomas Wiegand (Chair of FG-AI4H and Executive Director of Fraunhofer HHI, Germany), Justina Mashiba (C.E.O. of Universal Communication Service Access Fund, Tanzania), and Dr. Sira Ubwa Mamboya (Minister for Infrastructure, Communications, and Transportation in Zanzibar, Tanzania). These were followed by high-caliber presentations from researchers and stakeholders. The subsequent meeting demonstrated considerable progress in FG-AI4H activities.

FG-AI4H is developing a framework for the standardized benchmarking of AI technology for health. The workshop attracted participants from the medical, Machine Learning/AI, and regulatory communities with a strong regional presence. Sixteen (of the twenty-one) speakers stemmed from African institutions (e.g., Ifakara Health Institute, Tanzania; Ministry of Health Zanzibar, Tanzania; Mbarara University, Uganda; Makerere University, Uganda; East African Health Research Commission, Burundi; and TrueSpec, Cameroon). Several of these speakers have received international recognition for their groundbreaking work in the field (e.g., there were two winners of the WHO Regional Office for Africa’s Innovation Challenge and two winners of the Google AI Impact Challenge).

During the subsequent meeting, the Working Groups [e.g., Data and AI Solution Assessment Methods (WG-DAISAM) and Data and AI Solution Handling (WG-DASH)] and Topic Groups (e.g., Symptom Assessment) demonstrated considerable progress. Following the proposal and evaluation of multiple health topics, two were accepted for incorporation into FG-AI4H: Malaria and Antimicrobial Resistance (AMR). Finally, longtime FG-AI4H member, Dr. Manjula Singh (Indian Council of Medical Research), was nominated Vice-Chair of FG-AI4H and accepted.

The workshop and meeting benefited from considerable support. The Universal Communications Service Access Fund served as our gracious host (managing all logistics of the workshop and meeting) and the Fondation Botnar sponsored travel costs for eight participants.

The next FG-AI4H workshops and meetings will occur in New Delhi, India (November 11 to 15, 2019) and Brasilia, Brazil (January 2020). More information about the upcoming events and the FG-AI4H activities, can be found here .