The South African Medical Research Council (SAMRC), in partnership with the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation and Grand Challenges (GC) partners including GC Africa, GC Brazil, GC Ethiopia, GC India, and GC Senegal, is delighted to announce the launch of a groundbreaking initiative. Through the Grand Challenges South Africa program, they are inviting applications for projects that aim to harness the power of Artificial Intelligence (AI) to enhance global health in an equitable manner.
Artificial Intelligence (AI) has significant potential to transform healthcare around the world. But as AI technology continues to advance, there is an urgent need to position low- and middle-income countries (LMICs) to lead on the design and co-creation of AI-enabled technologies – thereby helping to improve the health and well-being of their women, children, and vulnerable communities. Through this call for proposal, they are emphasizing AI solutions that are locally driven and owned hence more relevant to address the needs of people they intend to serve and more likely to be accepted and used by local communities.
This call by the various GC partners is a follow-up to the initial call by the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation representing collaborative steps towards identifying, nurturing, and catalyzing the creativity, energy, and skills that researchers, implementers, governments, and technical partners have demonstrated in solving specific challenges in their countries and regions through LLMs.
- This RFA seeks innovative approaches to the use of LLMs (such as ChatGPT-4, or other credible sources with equivalent capability) to advance global public health. Given the numerous open and non-opensource AI tools, they encourage the applicant to select the tool most appropriate to their use case and context.
- They are looking for projects that seek to solve problems in the following areas:
- Clinical Decision Support
- Tools for that can be used by frontline health workers or clinicians for improving the diagnosis and management of health conditions and/or healthcare delivery.
- Support for health guideline refinement and adherence.
- Diagnostics interpretation, reducing cost, and overcoming at-a-distance barriers.
- Population Health & Policymaking
- Support for policymakers in leveraging new and timely insights through routinely available, underutilized, or unused data sources of text and voice.
- Reduce time delays to transition new evidence into policy and implementation, as well as optimizing resource allocation.
- Approaches that can distill information and make timely recommendations from complex and evolving datasets (e.g., forecasting disease epidemics and progression).
- Support for Frontline Health Workers
- Personalized coaching for semi-skilled FLWs that is tailored, highly relevant, and leads to an improved quality of service and/or lower costs.
- LLM supported solutions for workflow management (e.g., writing discharge summaries, etc.)
- Use of LLMs to support skilled FLWs in delivering higher quality services and improved efficiency.
- Health Communications & Patient Journeys
- Develop impactful and targeted communications tools that bridge language and literacy gaps when communicating health-related knowledge, messaging, and advice (i.e., translating from local dialects, text-to-voice, etc.).
- Provide timely, trusted, and tailored advice to end users who are marginalized and in so doing overcome significant cultural, access and stigma concerns.
- Support patients in understanding and managing their own health status and care regiment.
- Health Systems Strengthening
- Use of LLMs to improve interoperability of health data, systems, and programs.
- Clinical Decision Support
Ideally, the proposal will:
- Work on a specific problem that has been identified as a priority in South Africa.
- Leverage AI to increase productivity and efficiency in healthcare.
- Contribute to the body of evidence related to AI use in LMICs across global health.
- Foster innovation with AI in the interest of supporting public health decision makers and affected communities.
- Place a strong emphasis on systematically observing, validating, and quantifying the improved outcomes balanced with cost effectiveness from AI use.
- Conform with global principles of AI use i) to do no harm ii) to leverage technology against the toughest/most relevant global health problem iii) ensures that projects are led from LMICs even though there may be a high-income country (HIC) partner iv) local voices and ideas are captured throughout the process, and v) there is a dissemination plan of the outcomes of the projects.
- Give local communities an opportunity to provide their own perspective and cultural context so that they can decide on both i) their own thresholds for safe usage and ii) the overall utility of AI within their own lives.
Priority will be given to proposals that have:
- an explicit request for an AI-supported project in South Africa.
- those projects that have already completed a pilot before this Grand Challenges call, and/or,
- projects that have lessons/tools that can be transferred to other use cases/situations/contexts with minimal change.
- Emphasize importance of community-specific, culturally appropriate, and representative AI.
- The funding level is a grant of up to USD $100,000.00, for each project, provided to the organization, with a term of up to 12 months.
Geography of Interest
- The geography of interest for this Request for Proposals is South Africa, and the project needs to be led by investigators who are citizens or permanent residents of South Africa. Global partners may be included, but proposals must demonstrate at least 80% of the funding is going to an organization located in South Africa. Application budgets should be commensurate with the scope of work proposed.
What they are looking for?
- Proposals that demonstrate clear applications of LLMs (such as GPT-4, Laude, LLaMA, or other credible sources with equivalent capabilities), to address a specific challenge related to global health in South Africa.
- Proposals that demonstrate the grantee has a firm grasp of the application, has done some of the stakeholder mapping, and has an engagement plan with local decision-makers to ensure the proposal is successful.
- Proposals that present a high leverage and scalability opportunity.
- Proposals that outline a clear, feasible and reproducible methodology.
- Proposals that have timely access to data, decision-makers’ time and interest in using AI.
- Proposals that articulate how the project will lead to impact in the near-term and how those benefits will be sustained past the lifetime of the project.
- Proposals that are driven by a shared commitment to open science, data sharing, and building collaboration and analysis infrastructure to enable discoveries that will benefit people everywhere.
- They particularly encourage applications from women-led organizations and applications involving projects led by women.
They will not consider funding for proposals that:
- Do not explicitly use/reference the use of LLMs in their project execution.
- Do not have timely access to necessary data, decision-maker time, commitment, and interest (a commendation/request letter will be advantageous).
- Do not demonstrate that most of the work proposed will be led by investigators and teams based in South Africa.
- Do not include a validation plan.
- Do not provide any thought towards scale-up and sustainability.
For more information, visit Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation.