In lower-income countries, indicators for sexual, reproductive, and maternal health are lagging relative to other health indicators. For example, the levels of maternal mortality and access to contraception are generally off pace to meet Sustainable Development Goals to reduce maternal mortality to less than 70 per 100,000 live births and ensure universal access to sexual and reproductive health-care services. While the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic takes center stage, there is an urgent need to scale further innovation and solutions for improving maternal, sexual, and reproductive health and rights while strengthening health systems for integrated and sustainable health services.
Digital technologies, including artificial intelligence (AI) applications, have demonstrated encouraging potential for enhancing the delivery of maternal, sexual, and reproductive health and rights information and services. However, significant concerns remain about the potential harms and risks of using digital technology in this sector. The main objective of this project is to establish a research hub whose aim is to advance maternal, sexual, and reproductive health and rights while strengthening health systems in sub-Saharan Africa through the responsible development and deployment of AI innovations. Responsible AI innovations are defined as those that are ethical, inclusive, and equitable, respect human rights, and contribute to environmental sustainability.
The hub on AI for sexual, reproductive, and maternal health in Africa is complimentary to four similar hubs on gender and inclusion, climate change, agriculture, and education that are being developed by IDRC’s AI for Development Africa initiative. It will identify, validate, and document priority themes, strengthen the capacity of African innovators, researchers, and policymakers, and increase and strengthen the number of homegrown AI innovations in maternal, sexual, and reproductive health and rights while strengthening health systems in Africa.
- Rosalind Parkes-Ratanshi