Mehul C. Mehta, M.D., Ingrid T. Katz, M.D., M.P.H., and Ashish K. Jha, M.D., M.P.H.
The COVID-19 pandemic has been a major disruption in healthcare and economy around the world, so this is a very timely perspective on how artificial intelligence can play a role in mitigating the damages of such a health care crisis. The authors delineate the issues with low and middleincome countries (LMICs) that render these countries even more vulnerable during a pandemic: inadequate access, inconsistent quality of care, weak funding mechanisms, and shortage of health care workers. The large knowledge and judgment gaps in these countries can be partly addressed by artificial intelligence and its capabilities. There are three challenges for AI to fulfill its promise in global health: reliability and availability of data; appropriate application of artificial intelligence; and regulatory mechanisms to oversee this rapidly changing technology. The authors contend that large investments in data collection, standardization, and availability as well as economic incentives for companies that build AI solutions can overcome some of the obstacles. Although these are challenges of AI in any health care system, perhaps these challenges can be more daunting in LMICs even under the guidance of the World Health Organization. Of course the AI agenda in global health should not be without a strong coupling to public health infrastructure and measures.