Thursday, June 20, 2024
featured storyHEALTH

Artificial intelligence boosts the efficiency of service delivery in Rwandan health sector.

It was in 2019 that the first humanoid robot named Sofia appeared in the Transform Africa summit in Kigali convention center, back then Rwanda was yet to focus on artificial intelligence (AI) technology. However, AI had started to function in different sectors of Rwandan life among others health sector.

Zipline’s drones for instance, a Silicon Valley-based robotics firm in partnership with Rwandan government started delivering blood with drones at Kabgayi hospital in 2016. Espoir Kajibwami, a surgeon who once served as Kabgayi’s Medical Director says that before, in emergency case they would often send the patient to the national referral hospital in Kigali instead of waiting for the blood to arrive.

“Before, it was a serious problem to have blood when needed.” He said. In the past, in order to have blood delivered at the hospital, a staff would make three drives per week to the capital Kigali, 60 kilometers away and three to four hours round trip; in case of emergency, they had to do additional trips sometimes resulting in life-threatening delays for the patients.

Now, with just a simple order on a smartphone, Zipline distribution center located five kilometers from hospital will have a drone deliver blood at the hospital in just 15 minutes. As of 2021, more than 75 percent of blood delivery in Rwanda outside of Kigali use Zipline drones.

What’s inside zipline platform?

A key factor in Zipline’s success lies in its innovative use of the Nvidia Jetson edge AI and robotics platform to power its drone fleet. Zipline’s drones leverage the capability of Jetson Xavier NX system-on-module for autonomous navigation and precision landings. This technology allows the drones to process sensor inputs, employ GPS, air traffic control communications, inertial measurement unit sensors, and an onboard detection and avoidance system, ensuring safe and accurate deliveries.

AI to manage healthcare supply chain.

The Rwanda innovation fund, partly financed by the African Development Bank invested in Viebeg’s data driven logistic platform. Viebeg is helping to expand access to affordable health care by aiding healthcare facilities in procuring supplies in real-time. It uses AI to manage supply chain process from shipping to warehousing, distribution and inventory management.

Tobias Reiter, Viebeg Technologies co-founder and Chief executive officer, says that the firm’s AI-driven medical procurement platform directly connects healthcare providers with manufacturers.

This removes brokers and middlemen from the value chain, generating cost savings up to 40 percent for customers.

“We saw that many medical facilities did not have the right supplies, and from reports, every five minutes in Africa people are dying from conditions that could be prevented if we had the right medical supplies,” Reiter noted.

Alex Musyoka, viebeg’s co-founder and Chief commercial officer, says that from 2018 when Viebeg was set up, it works with many health facilities to find essential products for their specific fields at affordable rates, and more than two million people have been treated with its products.

Dr. Amol Kulkarni from the Kivu specialist clinic and one of only three maxillofacial surgeons in Rwanda, says that modern equipment is of utmost importance for specialists who treat defects and injuries of the mouth, teeth and jaws, but they are often not affordable in Africa. But thanks to Viebeg, his clinic acquired an orthopantomogram machine (a panoramic dental X-ray of the upper and lower jaw), therefore boosting its cutting-edge capability.

Special payment for products

Ejo Heza surgical center in Kigali needed a new anesthesia machine as their old one had broken down, but they didn’t have the funds to purchase a new one. Thanks to Viebeg’s special payment terms for products, they acquired the new equipment within three weeks.

“This has allowed our facility to continue saving lives,” said Dr. Dominique Savio Mugenzi, orthopedic surgeon and Managing Director at Ejo Heza. “we are now procuring our medical supplies and equipment through the platform, and this has resulted in a significant reduction of procurement costs and stock-outs of medical supplies,” Dr. Mugenzi added.

Rwandan artificial intelligence policy

Rwanda aims to become the hub for AI research in Africa by all means. The new published Rwandan AI policy aims to positioning Rwanda as Africa’s AI Lab and responsible AI champion. Among other objectives, driving public sector transformation to fuel AI adoption and accelerating responsible AI adoption in private sector, and creating an open, secure and trusted data ecosystem as an enabler of the AI revolution.

The national AI policy for the republic of Rwanda serves as a roadmap to enable Rwanda to harness the benefits of AI and mitigate its risks. Building on the mission and vision 2050, smart Rwanda master plan and other key national plans and policies, it equips Rwanda to harness AI for sustainable and inclusive growth.

By mobilizing local, regional and international stakeholders, it positions Rwanda to become a leading African innovation hub and Africa’s Centre of excellence in Artificial intelligence.

The national AI policy has been developed by Ministry of ICT and Rwanda Utilities Regulatory Agency with the support by GIZ Fair forward, the Centre for the 4th Industrial revolution Rwanda and the future society (TFS).







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