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AI4GH: Innovation hub in the Middle East and North Africa on using artificial intelligence to improve sexual, reproductive and maternal health

In lower-income countries, indicators for sexual, reproductive and maternal health (SRMH) are not on track to achieve Sustainable Development Goal (SDG) 3: Good Health and Well-Being. Inadequate SRMH services are linked to unintended pregnancies (including teen pregnancies), early and forced marriage, complications related to unsafe abortions, gender-based violence and an increase in sexually transmitted infections. This is particularly pronounced for vulnerable groups such as adolescents, people living with disabilities, refugees and internally displaced populations. Gender inequality, the focus of SDG 5, is a central challenge for women and girls to overcome, especially in matters related to sexuality and reproduction.

Artificial intelligence (AI) is showing promise in shaping more responsive and evidence-based SRMH services in the Middle East and North Africa (MENA). For example, decision support tools to improve HIV testing accuracy and detecting pre-eclampsia (high-blood pressure) and AI-enabled chatbots that provide personalized and easily accessible information related to SRMH. The potential for AI to improve SRMH services in MENA is dependent on the extent to which AI solutions are responsible in their design and deployment. Responsible AI innovations are ethical, respect human rights, are inclusive and contribute to environmental sustainability.

This project will support an AI innovation network to enhance SRMH outcomes in the MENA region with the goal of improving SRMH by strengthening health systems. Anticipated outcomes include a better understanding of good practices for responsible development and deployment of AI innovations to improve SRMH; a community of practice comprising African innovators, researchers, and other stakeholders; and a suite of home-grown AI innovations. This MENA hub will work closely with an existing hub in sub-Saharan Africa and two other hubs that will be selected for Asia and Latin America and the Caribbean respectively.

This project is part of IDRC’s Artificial Intelligence for Global Health (AI4GH) initiative, a five-year CAD15.5 million investment to strengthen health systems by leveraging contextualized responsible AI solutions.  

Project ID
Project Status
36 months
IDRC Officer
Chaitali Sinha
Total Funding
CA$ 834,100.00
Middle East
North of Sahara
Artificial Intelligence for Global Health
Artificial Intelligence for Global Health
Institution Country
Project Leader
Dr Shadi Saleh
American University of Beirut

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