IDRCThe Global South AI for Pandemic & Epidemic Preparedness & Response (AI4PEP) Network – an IDRC funded initiative
The Global South AI4PEP Network, founded in August 2022, is an interdisciplinary initiative that leverages insights from artificial intelligence, clinical public health, One Health, data sciences, etc. It aims to create practical tools and interventions addressing the disproportionate impact of pandemics and epidemics. Funded by IDRC’s AI and Global Health Investment, this network unites professionals from various sectors, including health practitioners, AI experts, data scientists, and community engagement specialists across Africa, Asia, Latin America, the Caribbean, the Middle East, and North Africa. Together, they strive to promote responsible AI, fostering equitable governance strategies and enhancing global preparedness for future health crises
The network’s mandate involves close collaboration with various stakeholders, including governments, public health agencies, and civil society. Its goals encompass generating new knowledge, promoting responsible AI, and building resilient governance strategies for equitable healthcare. Its work aligns with Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) 3 and 5, focusing on good health and gender equality. Its mandate can be summarized in four key themes: Early Detection, Early Warning Systems, Early Response, and Mitigation and Control of Emerging Epidemics. These themes are rooted in its mission to collect timely data for public health decision-making, strengthen health systems, and improve access to healthcare, particularly for vulnerable populations.
The network’s focus is on the health needs of Global South communities and acknowledges the lasting impact of colonialism and gender-based oppression on their well-being. Its theoretical framework is grounded in gender, equity, inclusion, and decolonization. Research and experience have highlighted the need for a feminist intersectional approach, decolonial methods, and the integration of diversity in research and public policy. Decolonization, according to the network, isn’t just a concept but a concrete political commitment for achieving equitable health, and its approach includes community engagement, participatory research, community-centered health policies, locally sourced health data, and a strong emphasis on diversity and inclusivity.
The network has established hubs in five target regions, selected from numerous proposals submitted by countries across the Global South. These projects are the result of collaborative efforts involving researchers, local communities, and governments. The projects cover a range of healthcare system strengthening initiatives, serving as a tangible representation of the network’s presence and advancing its One Health mandate. While the hubs have a degree of autonomy, they share values, collaborate, and learn from each other. The COVID-19 experience highlights the importance of global collaboration, and the network’s collective efforts aim to enhance health systems and preparedness for future crises.”