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Artificial Intelligence in Global Health

Artificial Intelligence is transforming healthcare, promising great advances in disease detection and treatment. Our understanding of the impact these technologies may have on people, systems and societies is limited, however, especially when it comes to applications in low resource settings. How do we guarantee that AI-assisted technologies don’t perpetuate bias? How do we validate their findings, and assess if they actually improve health outcomes? How do we ensure these technologies are designed by and for local communities? And how do we encourage the development of new sources of data to train machine learning algorithms, especially in data-poor environments? At HGHI, we engage with partners globally to explore these pressing questions. 

Data Science & AI Summits for Health

Building Community and Conversation about the challenges and opportunities of AI in Global Health 

The Data Science & AI Summits for Health (DASH) aim to inspire, teach and connect innovators in the health data science/AI community regionally and globally. Through a cross-disciplinary approach that empowers participants to customize the event content, we will explore lessons learned from previous digital health revolutions, highlight new challenges in the advent of AI and cultivate ideas and collaborations that will drive the ecosystem towards scalable impact. 

The inaugural event, DASH in Africa, will take place in Kigali, Rwanda. DASH in Africa is a collaboration between the Harvard Global Health Institute, Mbarara University of Science and Technology, the MIT Critical Data Group, and other partners. The project is made possible thanks to the support of the Novartis Foundation. You can read more about the vision on our DASH in Africa website.

DASH Blog Series

Global Health Challenges & Digital Solutions:

A global blog series featuring stories from innovators and experts in data science and AI

The COVID-19 pandemic has disrupted typical work streams across all sectors around the world. For those working in digital health and artificial intelligence, it has meant redefining priorities, reallocating resources, and identifying new opportunities to have impact. This health crisis has highlighted the value of technology in healthcare, and has created space for rapid innovation and scale-up of existing digital tools. Yet at the same time, it has added layers of complexity and unearthed existing barriers to meeting the health needs of sick populations.

This new blog series will take you around the world to hear stories from the ground on how digital health experts have forged ahead in the midst of the pandemic. They will share their victories, unexpected hurdles, and provide insight on what drives them to use digital tools as a means for doing good. While these unprecedented circumstances have fundamentally changed the way we all work, it is clear that the mission to address health needs through digital innovation persists. 


This blog series is created in partnership with the Novartis Foundation. 

DASH Webinar Series

The Role of Artificial Intelligence in the COVID-19 Response in Low Resource Settings

Big data and artificial intelligence are playing a role in the COVID-19 response globally. AI is being used to assess effectiveness of social distancing measures; accelerate the development of novel therapeutics and identify possible cases within the population. As COVID-19 spreads to low resource settings, there is an increasing need to explore the role of AI in the response – to better understand the health needs on the ground, leverage existing tools for modeling infectious disease outbreaks and assess what solutions have the most promise for impact.

In response to this need, the Harvard Global Health Institute, Novartis Foundation and partners hosted an 8-part webinar series to unpack these pressing questions. Building off the community created through the Data Science & AI Summit for Health (DASH), we brought together experts from over 10 countries, across sectors and industry, for practical conversations on ways to leverage technology during the pandemic. We showcased voices that often go unheard and catalyzed unexpected partnerships between stakeholders in the Global North and South. Watch the videos here.

Hype vs. Reality: The Role of AI in Global Health

Potential and Pitfalls for the Use of Artificial Intelligence in Healthcare 

HGHI undertook a global state of play landscaping exercise with an in-depth focus on Harvard University, Massachusetts Institute of Technology and affiliated hospitals to better understand who was doing what in the AI and health space. Our exercise revealed a critical gap in the exploration of key issues at the intersection of AI, health and low- and middle-income countries (LMICs) not only in our ecosystem, but globally.

Academic leadership is strongly needed in this space to ensure that AI-assisted systems are deployed for impactful health outcomes in LMICs; that validated innovations scale; and that technologies are designed by and for local communities. In the absence of such leadership, the promises generated by AI could fall flat or worse, cause harm.

In February 2019, Harvard Global Health Institute brought together experts, students, innovators, policymakers and researchers for a day of flash talks; case studies and presentations featuring the work of AI entrepreneurs from low- and middle-income countries. Learn more here.