Organizations (Hubs) Managing Regional Innovation Networks for Artificial Intelligence to Improve Sexual, Reproductive, and Maternal Health (SRMH) Outcomes
About this Call
The International Development Research Centre (IDRC) is pleased to announce a call for full proposals to select up to three institutions to establish regional hubs to manage networks in Asia, Latin America, and the Caribbean (LAC), and the Middle East and North Africa (MENA). Each hub will be managed by an institution based in the region and will develop a regional research network focused on advancing sexual, reproductive, and maternal health (SRMH) outcomes using responsible Artificial Intelligence (AI) approaches and solutions.
The use of Artificial Intelligence (AI) is showing promise in transforming how health systems are planned and health services are delivered across low- and middle-income countries (LMICs) today. Responsibly designed and implemented AI has the potential to contribute to improved global health outcomes. In the area of SRMH outcomes, AI applications have the potential to strengthen point-of-care services, inform diagnoses and provide personalized information based on real-time analysis of relevant data. For example, AI models and applications have been developed to support the early detection of pre-eclampsia and improve accuracy of HIV testing.
In lower income countries, indicators for sexual, reproductive and maternal health - referred to by some more generally as sexual and reproductive health rights (SRHR) - are not on track to achieve Sustainable Development Goal (SDG) 3: Good Health and Well-Being. Inadequate SRMH service provision has been linked with unintended pregnancies – including teen pregnancies – early and forced marriage, complications related to unsafe abortions, gender-based violence, and increases in sexually transmitted infections. This is particularly pronounced for vulnerable groups such as adolescents, people living with disabilities, refugees, and internally displaced populations. The COVID-19 pandemic has had a devastating impact on SRMH outcomes such as access to essential services and support for survivors of gender-based violence. Gender inequality, the focus of SDG5, is a central challenge for women and girls to overcome, especially in matters related to sexuality and reproduction.
Despite the promise of AI to improve SRMH outcomes, there are important ethical, legal, and social risks that need to be appropriately managed, mitigated, and governed. For example, harmful biases can be integrated into algorithms, which can translate into biased public health messaging, diagnoses, and treatment protocols. Furthermore, much of the data required to develop AI models to tackle SRMH challenges are non-representative or inaccessible. The current increase in demand for health-focused AI solutions in LMICs is not commensurate to the investments being made to strengthen health systems, credible data, skilled individuals, and requisite computing infrastructure.
Objectives of this call:
The general objective of each of the three innovation research networks is to advance SRMH in MENA, LAC, and Asia through implementation research promoting responsible development and deployment of artificial intelligence innovations. By responsible, we are referring to AI innovations that are ethical, respect human rights, inclusive, and contribute to environmental sustainability.
Specific objectives are to:
- Strengthen the body of multidisciplinary evidence emerging from LMIC-based researchers on how to develop and scale responsible AI innovations for improving SRMH in MENA, LAC, or Asia.
- Build innovation research capacities in MENA, LAC, or Asia to develop, deploy and scale responsible AI applications in “real world” settings to improve SRMH outcomes.
- Deepen understanding and informed practices to enhance gender and social inclusion, and limit related biases in the design, implementation and use of AI solutions for SRMH.
- Influence AI and SRMH policies, practices, and efforts to scale up and commercialize responsible AI solutions.
IDRC invites eligible applicants to submit an electronic application through the SurveyMonkey application platform for this Call before the deadline.
- Applications must be received no later than August 16, 2022, at 11:59 pm EDT. Applications received after the deadline will not be considered.
- Applications can be submitted in English, French or Spanish.
For details, please consult the detailed Call Document.
Please check the Frequently Asked Questions as you prepare your application.
Any additional inquiries related to the Call and application process should be sent by e-mail to AI4GH@idrc.ca.