As the World Health Organization predicts a shortfall of 18 million health workers by 2030, new technologies offer opportunities to not only expand the reach and impact of health care workers, but also to help train more of them. In many low-income countries, demand for health care workers may even fall below projected levels, leading to the paradoxical phenomenon of unemployed or underemployed health workers in those countries facing acute needs-based shortages. That’s where artificial intelligence and data science can both upskill existing health professionals to fit the evolving needs and help train future health workers.
The Broadband Commission for Sustainable Development’s report, Reimagining Global Health through Artificial Intelligence: The Roadmap to AI Maturity, highlights that a country’s workforce and education system are the foundations for the use of AI in health. While many roadblocks exist for countries looking to strengthen their use of AI and data science in health, strategic and targeted investments could prove highly beneficial in achieving greater health outcomes for low-income countries.
On Wednesday, July 7, Devex and the Novartis Foundation co-hosted Building health workforces for the future: Leveraging the opportunities of AI, a workshop that brought together key stakeholders for an open discussion around the opportunities that AI can offer when it comes to empowering, supporting, and training the health care workforce in LMICs. The interactive workshop consisted of three expert-led breakout groups that drew on real life examples of the challenges and opportunities around AI-enabled support for health care workers, and discussed the enabling environment needed to ensure scalable and sustainable programs.
The HealthTech Dialogue Hub
Devex and the Novartis Foundation have partnered around the HealthTech Dialogue Hub initiative. The Hub is a space to transform innovative ideas into impactful health and care solutions. It showcases lessons learned around technology-enabled innovations, hosts events, and facilitates ongoing dialogue between government leaders, health workers, and innovators.
Introductory fireside chat: What are the challenges facing the healthcare workforce and how can technology help solve them?
-Dr. Prisca Kizito, President, Emergency Care Society of Uganda and Faculty Member at Mbarara University
-Moderator: Jenny Lei Ravelo, Senio Reporter, Devex
Breakout group discussions:
1. The power of data to improve and optimize the work of health care workers.
2. Training and empowering health care workers through HealthTech.
3. Integrating digital and data science skills in national health education.
Roundtable report back
Amy Finnegan, PhD, is a Senior Data Scientist at IntraHealth International where she supports initiatives to use big data to end the HIV epidemic, improve family health, and ensure that frontline health workers are ready, connected, and safe. Dr. Finnegan is also an Adjunct Professor of Global Health at the Duke Global Health Institute (DGHI) where she co-leads the Big Data for Reproductive Health (bd4rh) initiative which seeks to use big data methods (machine learning) and sources (e.g. social media data) to improve global contraceptive access and use.
Hani Eskandar is the Digital Services Senior Coordinator at the Digital Society Division of the Telecommunication Development Bureau of ITU. He is currently involved in providing assistance to several developing countries by advising on digital applications and services strategies and policies, assisting in implementing technical cooperation projects in areas of digital health, agriculture, governance and education. He has led the development of several guidelines and best practices reports on digital applications particularly on digital Health, digital Agriculture and digital Government. He is currently leading major joint programmes on digital health, digital agriculture, digital government, smart learning and smart villages in collaboration with several governments, UN agencies and other stakeholders.
Prisca Kizito (MBChB, DTM&H, MMED-EM), is a highly resourceful medical doctor with cumulative experience in infectious diseases and research and Emergency Medicine. She is a faculty member of Mbarara University of Science and Technology (MUST), department of EM, also working in Mbarara Hospital ED. Prisca is the president of the Emergency Care Society of Uganda (ECSU) a “young” group uniting different emergency care cadres and enthusiasts. She is also an ALS Instructor of the European Resuscitation council and a Trainer of Trainer of Emergency Care courses of the WHO and Ministry of Health Uganda. One of the few Emergency Medicine Specialists in Uganda, Prisca believes that through continuous and multi-sectorial advocacy, Uganda will achieve timely, quality and equitable emergency care someday. Her interests include innovations relevant to resource limited settings like Uganda, medical education, bedside ultrasound, global health and clinical research among others.
Sameer Pujari is the Unit Head a.i. and co-founder of the Be Healthy Be Mobile Initiative at the World Health Organization`s Digital Health and Innovations department, he is overseeing development and implementation of the Global Strategy for Digital Health and is the vice chair of the WHO ITU Multisectoral Ai for health focus group. Sameer joined WHO headquarters in Geneva in Feb 2008. With WHO, he has worked extensively on Digital Health including mHealth, Big Data, and AI, he has provided in-country support in over 50 countries. Since 2012 he is also co-leading the development & implementation of a joint WHO and International Telecommunication initiative of the United Nations on Digital Health. The initiative has successfully scaled digital health programs in 20 countries with over millions of people using the national programs.
Jenny Lei Ravelo is a Devex Senior Reporter based in Manila. She covers global health, with a particular focus on the World Health Organization, and other development and humanitarian aid trends in Asia Pacific. Prior to Devex, she wrote for ABS-CBN, one of the largest broadcasting networks in the Philippines, and was a copy editor for various international scientific journals. She received her journalism degree from the University of Santo Tomas.