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End-to-end AI and data systems for targeted surveillance and management of COVID-19 and future pandemics affecting Uganda (COAST)

The COVID-19 crisis is being called a “data-driven pandemic” — that is, massive amounts of information and data are being released and shared at a scale that has never been seen before. Across the world, AI and data science research is showing promise for early COVID detection, timely communications with the public, new diagnostic tools, and informed policy and public health responses that can be automated, implemented, and scaled affordably.

A key challenge to mounting a coordinated, real-time response has been a lack of representative, high-quality, and timely data systems. Due to the uneven access of under-represented African populations to public and private health care services, gaps in modelling can be created that will further reinforce inequalities in the future. The other core challenge is accessing the necessary data frequently to support real-time systems. If these challenges are not addressed, Uganda will struggle to mobilize new innovations to support the pandemic response or risk implementing solutions that do not benefit communities that are most vulnerable for COVID-19 and future pandemics.

This project will focus on strengthening Uganda’s existing health data systems, including combining new data sets such as radio broadcasts, call health records, and data on air pollution to complement existing public health data sets. Researchers will use this data to test and deploy new solutions for patient screening and decision support systems, including a chat bot and automated call-in line to support patients and relieve overwhelmed health officials. The researchers will also test novel approaches to triage COVID-19 patients in a clinical setting, supporting diagnosis and assisting health workers in focusing their attention where they need it most. Finally, they will model and evaluate the impact of COVID-19 public health measures and targeted government responses, analyzing the issues affecting communities and their perceptions of public policy measures, with the aim of influencing positive policies and behaviours.

This work will be carried out as part of the COVID-19 Global South Artificial Intelligence and Data Innovation Program, a program funded by IDRC and the Swedish International Development Cooperation Agency.

Project ID
Project Status
24 months
IDRC Officer
Katie Clancy
Total Funding
CA$ 1,240,000.00
South of Sahara
Education and Science
COVID-19 Global South AI and Data Innovation Program
Institution Country
Makerere University