The George Institute for Global Health India to Revolutionize Maternal and Neonatal Healthcare in Indian Rural Communities

To build an innovative AI-based solution in SMARThealth Pregnancy, enabling a two-way communication between frontline health workers and rural beneficiaries with support from Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation

The George Institute for Global Health India is excited to announce  that their project, aimed at transforming maternal and neonatal healthcare in rural communities across India, is one of nearly 50 Grand Challenges Catalyzing Equitable Artificial Intelligence (AI) Use grants announced by the Gates Foundation. The funding will be utilized to integrate an innovative AI-based solution into the SMARThealth Pregnancy system, enabling two-way communication support between frontline health workers and rural beneficiaries. The ultimate goal is to reduce maternal and newborn mortality and morbidity.

With a funding amount of $85,265, and working with AI experts from the University of Oxford Computational Health informatics Laboratory, The George Institute India will expand the capabilities of the SMARThealth Pregnancy system, an advanced platform that combines frontline healthcare staff with artificial intelligence to deliver high-quality prenatal and postnatal care. This creative approach aims to address the healthcare challenges faced by resource-constrained regions, including the scarcity of healthcare workers and gender-related obstacles, in order to provide comprehensive healthcare to women in remote areas of low- and middle-income nations.

By integrating GPT-4, an AI large language model, into the SMARThealth Pregnancy API, The Institute aims to significantly enhance the quality and contextual relevance of healthcare information and services provided by frontline health professionals. This technological advancement will have a profound impact on women's and newborns' health knowledge, behaviors, and outcomes in the long run.

"We are honoured to have the support of the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation in our efforts to address critical issues related to maternal and newborn health," said Dr. D Praveen who leads the SMARThealth Program at The George Institute for Global Health, India. "With the support of this funding, we will leverage the power of artificial intelligence to equip frontline healthcare professionals with the necessary tools to deliver timely and effective healthcare to women in rural areas."

The SMARThealth Pregnancy system, developed in collaboration with end users in rural India, has already demonstrated promise during its feasibility and acceptability assessment. With the grant from the Gates Foundation, The George Institute India will undertake extensive training and validation of the AI models, incorporating valuable knowledge from Indian and WHO guidelines. Additionally, focus group discussions and stakeholder engagement workshops will ensure the inclusion of multiple perspectives from frontline healthcare professionals, medical practitioners, experts, and Department of Health officials.

This project led by The George Institute for Global Health India and supported by the Gates Foundation, the University of Oxford and the George Institute for Global Health’s Global Women’s Health Program has the potential to profoundly impact maternal and newborn health on a global scale. Over one million frontline medical professionals working in rural India alone could benefit from the adoption of advanced AI technology in the SMARThealth Pregnancy system, empowering community health workers and auxiliary nurse midwives. Moreover, this initiative paves the way for similar digital solutions in countries within Africa, along with India, Indonesia, and beyond, as the adaptable SMARThealth platform can address other pressing health issues.

“At the heart of our mission lies a deep commitment to empowering and uplifting those who tirelessly serve on the frontlines of healthcare, including ASHAs and ANMs, who are the backbone of rural healthcare in India. Together, we will harness the power of innovation to strengthen their capacity, amplify their impact, and ultimately transform the lives of countless women and newborns in need.” Said Prof Vivekanand Jha, Executive Director, The George Institute for Global Health India.

Please access the Media Announcement from BMGF here: