Artificial Intelligence (AI) could be what Africa needs to build a resilient society primary health care system and ensure adequate and quality health services for all.
This was the consensus when experts gathered at the Media and Development Conference 2023 (MDC23) organised by the Centre for Journalism Innovation and Development (CJID), in Abuja on Monday.
The conference is themed: "Bridging Democracy, Innovation, and Media Sustainability in West Africa."
Insights on how AI is reshaping healthcare delivery, education, and societal frameworks were shared through the perspectives of tech enthusiasts, educators, and healthcare professionals.
Speaking during one of the panel sessions, titled: The Future of Primary Healthcare in Africa: Strengthening Intersectional Collaboration in AI-Tech-Driven Solutions" the founder of MinoHealth AI Labs, Darlington Akogo, said AI possesses lots of knowledge which can be beneficial to primary healthcare in the country.
Mr Akogo said there is a shortage of clinicians in Nigeria and across the African region, and the potential of AI is to build systems that are capable of automating some portion of what doctors do and also serve as assistance.
He also shared his insights on how the beauty of AI lies in its human-like capabilities but noted that it may be difficult to get AI to do exactly what human beings are good at.
The whole idea of AI is that it is a machine with human abilities and its potential is immense, however, there are limitations to what it can provide. We need to ensure safety by deploying it in ethical contexts. AI is a powerful technology that, when harnessed for good, can transform societies," he said.
The session was moderated by Mojeed Alabi, head, Development Desk, at Premium Times.Structured Framework
Also speaking, the Director of Advocacy and Policy, AIDs Healthcare Foundation, Kemi Gbadamosi, emphasised the need for a structured framework for AI to work in the healthcare sector.
Ms Gbadamosi said, "Health is relevant by virtue and for AI to make a real impact, we require a distinct document outlining frameworks for both ICT and healthcare."
She said it is about fostering collaboration between two seemingly distinct realms and having a tailored framework will ensure they complement each other seamlessly.
Contributing to the discussion, Obele Oluchi, the Programme Coordinator, Christian Aid, said AI has come to stay, and the country's acceptance of it is key to maximising its benefits.
Mr Oluchi said the media needs to play a significant role in shaping existing perceptions about AI.
"We need to sell AI in the right way, highlighting its potential benefits. Moreover, theres a need for audience education and robust data protection measures as we venture into this new era.