Chris Orwa

This conversation is closed.

Can technology replace doctors in third world countries

Zahanati: A research project on application of Artificial Intelligence in diagnosis of Malaria in Kenya

Zahanati app, developed by Doban Africa, is a research project that aims to reduce incidence of late diagnosis of malaria by availing tools for self diagnosis.

The use of artificial intelligence technologies in medical diagnosis has been around since the emergence of machine learning in 1950s (Symbolic learning, statistical/pattern recognition, and neural networks). However, it is only with the maturation of pattern recognition branch of machine learning that considerably accurate results were obtained for medical diagnosis. And while the field of machine learning in medical diagnosis continue to be heavily researched, a few challenges will continue to depress wide spread application of these technologies.


  • Apr 9 2012: Certainly technologies have and will continue to "replace" doctors and other health care workers. But currently, most humans require and/or want personal contact with their doctors to result in successful and satisfactory outcomes in health. With regards to specific diagnosis, I think this personal interaction is not always required. But we are many years from being able to have computers and artificial intelligence replace health care workers in treatment. The often subtle signs and symptoms of the diseases that we suffer from are often very difficult for physicians to identify. I know there will be great improvements coming in this area. But I predict that these technologies with require a significant contributions of health care workers to be effective.
    • thumb
      Apr 11 2012: The need for personal contact with doctors maybe limited to field like physiotherapy, psychiatry or dentistry. Common sickness, according to my view can be diagnosed by technology.
  • thumb
    Apr 6 2012: Did it replace in First world already?
    • thumb
      Apr 11 2012: Developed countries have a good doctor-to-patient ratio, while third world countries have a low doctor-to-patient ratio and may necessitate the use of technology to breach this deficit.

      • thumb
        Apr 11 2012: Agree about doctor patient ratio....
        Is not population, poor infra structure, education , in some cases brain drain etc of developing countries are also contributors to that ratio....

        Well technology may take a lead in patient care in near future. Do third world country has enough financial strength to buy that ? Still first dollars of these coutries goes for food !!!

        What about technical capability then to effectively use that technology ?
      • thumb
        Apr 11 2012: Understand your point. Not abandoning your idea (no idea should be so) just challenging from different perspective to provoke more thoughts........ideas

        If the focus is only one or two healthcare issues as you mentioned may be it is possible to find out cost effective way....but for total healthcare, it's a big challenge.

        Still for many many conditions , for right diagnosis physical presence of patient in front of healthcare professional is necessary.....where using mobile or sms technology are of little / no help.....

        Well one of the major healthcare challenge even in developed countries where, doctor, money, technology is not an issue....that challenge is patients sticking to doctors advice and medication... use of mobile phone technology, ipad etc is on experimentation stage to improve that.....

        Moreover for local or country specific problem , intrinsic solution is more needed......for other countries it is difficult to understand the local challenges and issues. So far innovation is an investment for who will be going to invest for that if the target countries are poor with very low chance getting return of investment......

        Developed world, corporations, individuals these days definitely trying to help out.....but that's part of CSR for in case of corporations, in case of country it's political agenda, while it's a person at times there is real intention helping people but most of the time it's self actualization.