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Tech experts develop AI mobile app to better diagnose malaria, other diseases

BY: Daniel Ofosu Dwamena
Dr Amo-Boaten explaining how the mobile application works at the exhibition center
Dr Amo-Boaten explaining how the mobile application works at the exhibition center

A mobile application powered by Artificial Intelligence Algorithms has been developed by one of the outstanding Ghanaian tech experts, Dr Mark Amo-Boateng, a lecturer at the University of Energy and Natural Recourses (UENR), to help people to better diagnose conditions such as malaria, tuberculosis, diabetes and other urinal conditions.

The app was exhibited at the just-ended 2nd edition of the AI for Good Global Summit held by ITU, in partnership with XPRIZE Foundation, the global leader in incentivised prize competitions, the Association for Computing Machinery (ACM) and the United Nations agencies in Geneva from May 15-17, 2018.

The summit was aimed at bringing breakthrough teams in AI to demonstrate the potential to map poverty, use AI to assist the delivery of citizens – centric services and develop new opportunities for AI to help achieve universal healthcare coverage.

Giving a presentation on his innovation at the summit, Dr Amo-Boateng indicated that the recent waves of AI hypes had broken out of the clinical setting and were directly reaching people at home with patient-facing applications which empowered individuals to better manage their long-term and chronic health conditions.

He explained that with just a microscope adopter attached to a smartphone’s camera, the AI applications installed on the phone would run the images that were taken by the phone to indicate the type, number, as well as stage of parasites that could be found in the body.

“For example, if you are testing for malaria, the AI analyses the image taken and tells you the type of malaria, the stage and number of parasites that are in the body,” he added.

He said with the app, doctors in rural communities especially, as well as individuals, could have accurate diagnoses without heavily relying on clinical diagnoses alone.

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A new mobile app for medical diagnoses for newborn babies in particular was also exhibited at the summit by a Nigerian tech expert.

The app, he said, was aimed at providing a locus alternative for health workers in developing regions in the world to conduct critical diagnoses and save newborns’ lives.

“The app will help health workers to have accurate diagnoses which will pre-inform them as to whether or not a newborn child is healthy or need referral for advance care early enough,” he said.

“We are using the cry of the baby as inbuilt for the AI. A machine lens will then analyze the cry for patterns that are altered by breathing difficulties in the child’s cry,” he added.

The summit

AI Good for Global Summit is the leading annual United Nations platform for dialogue to identify practical applications on AI and supporting strategies to improve the quality and sustainability of life on the world.

The summit aims at formulating strategies to ensure trusted, safe and inclusive development of AI technologies and equitable access to their benefits to help achieve transparency for AI solutions to yield long-term benefits and help achieve the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs).

The summit saw exhibitors from around the world who competed for the US₵3 million set by the XPRIZE competition, should their projects for sustainable development goals get chosen by the UN.

They proposed impactful AI strategies able to be enacted in the near term, guided by an expert audience of mentors representing government, industry, the academia and civil society.

These strategies were evaluated by the mentors according to their feasibility and scalability, potential to address truly global challenges, degree of supporting advocacy, and applicability to market failures beyond the scope of government and industry.

Addressing participants in the summit, the Secretary General of ITU, Houlin Zhao, said “As the UN specialised agency for information and communication technologies, ITU is well placed to guide AI innovation towards the achievement of the UN Sustainable Development Goals.

We are providing a neutral platform for international dialogue aimed at building a common understanding of the capabilities of emerging AI technologies.”

He said the exercise would connect AI innovators with public and private-sector decision makers, building collaboration to take promising strategies forward. —GB