Advancing Access to Pregnancy Screening Through AI: Insights from the AIMIX ERC Project Meeting March 2024

In March 2024, the AIMIX team met in Kenya for an annual project meeting, during which significant progress was made in understanding the intersection of artificial intelligence (AI) and pregnancy screening. Here, we delve into the key takeaways from the gathering, the progress and direction of the AIMIX project.

  1. One of the focal points of the meeting was gathering insights from healthcare providers regarding the acceptability of AI in their practice, taking into account both rural hospital and dispensary settings. ICREA professor Karim Lekadir’s insightful talk delved into the implications of AI adoption, opening the door to discussions about its integration into local healthcare workflows.
  2. The meeting also marked a significant milestone with the Data Transfer Agreement (DTA) between UB and AKU. Once in place, this agreement will facilitate the exchange of crucial data, enabling the project to move forward with the development and testing of AI models. For the transfer of data, we will be using federated learning. Discussions with the local IT teams in Nairobi and Rabai prepared the set-up and connection of the federated learning nodes. This approach holds immense promise in ensuring data privacy and security while harnessing the collective intelligence of distributed datasets.
  3. We had the immense opportunity of witnessing nurses in rural settings utilising ultrasound technology with the dedicated AIMIX protocols (both standard ultrasound and blind sweeps protocol) on pregnant women. This provided invaluable firsthand insights into the practical applications of AI in remote healthcare settings.
  4. We met several mothers and pregnant women in the Kilifi rural region and this experience was eye-opening, as their passion and enthusiasm have deepened our understanding of their perspectives, needs, and concerns, particularly regarding AI usage. Their insights are invaluable for adapting the AIMIX project to suit their unique circumstances and diverse communities.
  5. Not just the mothers, recognising the importance of community engagement, social scientists define a plan for ongoing interactions with the local communities to ensure the acceptance and effectiveness of AI-powered healthcare interventions. By leading discussions with the end users, the AIMIX team have been updated on the local constrains within the healthcare systems. This insight will help to address barriers to access and delivery, ultimately enhancing healthcare outcomes for all.

As the AIMIX project progresses, the transformative potential of AI in healthcare delivery in rural settings become more and more tangible. By bridging the gap between technological innovation and community engagement, AIMIX aims to pave the way for more inclusive and accessible healthcare solutions. The March 2024 AIMIX project meeting served as a testament to the collaborative efforts and unwavering dedication of all involved.