COVID-19 : Experts to Discuss the Role of Artificial Intelligence in Solving Inequalities and Systemic Vulnerabilities

A study conducted by Effective Basic Services (eBASE) Africa suggests that COVID-19 policies affect people disproportionately by income and geographic location. In a study funded by the International Development and Research Center in Canada, eBASE spoke to policy makers, partitioners, and citizens in both rural and community areas through key informant interviews and focus group discussions.

It is in this like light that experts will be examining the role of artificial intelligence in solving inequalities and systemic vulnerabilities of Covid-19 on February 3, 2022 through a webinar.

A woman in the North West Region mentioned that the lockdowns affected her Toghu business, she added that her Toghu business was the main source of income for her children’s school fees and hospital bills. When national policies against COVID-19 were implemented, it meant that she was unable to have access to markets and her customers. This pushed her further into poverty. Meanwhile people in the cities were worried about lockdown measures stopping them from going to drinking spots and staying out late, people in rural areas were being affected economically mostly by the pandemic.

The question of inequity and vulnerability is common not only with COVID-19 but also with other pandemics and sporadic diseases like cholera, Ebola, Lhasa and even common endemic diseases like Malaria. Women in rural areas have been suffering these endemic inequities and vulnerability across sectors in Africa. However, the world is just waking up to it in the advent of COVID-19 – demonstrating a global equity issue that must be addressed with creativity and innovation. It is unfair of the global scientific community to sit back and not use its best tools and big guns to address inequity and vulnerability issues around pressing health issues. One of such global scientific community is the Africa – Canada Artificial Intelligence and Data Innovation Consortium (ACADIC). ACADIC is working with the York University in Canada to bring together global scientific actors from Cameroon, Switzerland, Nigeria, and South Africa to stimulate discussions on discovering COVID-19 inequities and systemic vulnerability starting Thursday 3rd February 2022 via Zoom (link if you wish to join :

Artificial Intelligence could help identify and address some of the inequities created by pandemics like COVID-19 especially because mobile phones have penetrated our rural communities. Mobile phones make a good platform that can be used for digital health and artificial intelligence tools and can potentially work even for non-literate women. This is because digital health and artificial intelligence tools could use voice and local languages to gather data for innovation.

Artificial intelligence can quickly pick up how policies are affecting a woman in a village and communicate this to policy makers for quick action. It can also highlight how lockdowns for example is affecting rural businesses and how this is in turn affecting health and education in rural communities. Governments, especially in Africa, should reflect on how to exploit existing local capacities in digital health and artificial intelligence to this purpose.

Ingrid Kengne


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