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Artificial Intelligence applications to support epidemic and pandemic prevention, preparedness and response

Disease outbreaks are increasing both in terms of severity and frequency. Climate change is exacerbating existing health and social inequities by increasing the vulnerability of climate “hotspots” to the emergence and re-emergence of many infectious diseases such as malaria, dengue fever and zika. Moreover, a growing number of these diseases are spread from animals to people, due to factors such as growing human encroachment into natural landscapes. The One Health concept recognizes and responds to the reality that human health is interdependent with the health of animals and the environment. Responding to the complex nature of these interactions in a timely way requires the ability to analyze large data sets across multiple sectors.

Artificial intelligence (AI) solutions and data science approaches are increasingly being used to identify risks, conduct predictive modeling and provide evidence-based recommendations for public health policy and action. Despite the promise of using these innovative tools to improve public health outcomes, there are important ethical, legal, and social implications that, if not appropriately managed and governed, can translate into significant risks to individuals and populations. Responsible AI entails intentional design to enhance health equity and gender equality and avoid amplifying existing inequalities and biases.

This initiative will address existing knowledge and practice gaps in the Global South by establishing a multi-regional network to deepen the understanding of how responsible AI solutions can improve public health preparedness and response. It will strengthen the capacity of interdisciplinary researchers and policymakers across Africa, Asia, Latin America and the Caribbean, and the Middle East and North Africa, to support early detection, response, mitigation and control of developing infectious disease outbreaks. Projects within the initiative will work closely with governments, public health agencies, civil society and other actors to generate new knowledge and collaborations to inform practice and policies at subnational, national, regional and global levels.

Project ID
Project Status
60 months
IDRC Officer
Chaitali Sinha
Total Funding
CA$ 7,250,000.00
South America
West Indies
South Asia
Far East Asia
Middle East
North of Sahara
South of Sahara
Global Health
Education and Science