Google intends to use Artificial Intelligence to diagnose and treat diseases in Africa

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Google LLC, an American multinational technology company that specializes in Internet-related services and products, is considering how it can use Artificial Intelligence (AI) to help doctors in Africa tackle some of the continent’s most pervasive diseases.

The initiative is expected to transform industries from healthcare to transport.

The company’s head of product for AI in healthcare, Katherine Chou said “we’re actively looking to see what we can do” in Africa. She revealed that Google would need to understand the types of disease it could target on the continent, after which her team would consider launching pilot projects with Google’s new AI research centre in Ghana.

Chou said “we do have a division working on things like malaria and dengue, so there have been thoughts of how we can help there.”

According to the World Health Organization, there were about 212 million malaria cases and 429,000 deaths in 2015, with more than 90 percent of those in Sub-Saharan Africa.

Chou revealed that “we will start with understanding various countries’ needs first, but we have identified a few countries that need some of the services we could be helping with already, like diabetic retinopathy”. Her team has been building AI models to predict the onset of diabetic retinopathy, a complication of diabetes that can cause blindness.

Ultimately, Artificial Intelligence will be designed to make healthcare more accessible, allow doctors to spend more time with patients rather than on paperwork and would detect new types of diseases by identifying patterns that humans could not.

According to Chou, “ultimately what we would like to do is use AI to make higher quality care that’s affordable and accessible and make that a norm for billions of people”.




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