Lahore, September 22, 2023 – Dr. Maryam Mustafa, Director of the Saida Waheed Gender Initiative and Assistant Professor of Computer Science at Lahore University of Management Sciences (LUMS), showcased her project, ‘Awaaz-e-Sehat: Empowering Maternal Healthcare with Voice-Enabled Electronic Record Management,’ at the 78th United Nations General Assembly. Her presentation has part of the session focused on ‘Artificial Intelligence for Accelerating Progress on the Sustainable Development Goals: Addressing Society’s Greatest Challenges.’ (Bill & Melinda Gates)
Dr. Mustafa’s project has awarded a grant from the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation as part of its Grand Challenges Catalysing Equitable Artificial Intelligence (AI) Use award. She collaborated with Dr. Hassan Mohy Ud Din (Project Co-PI, LUMS), Dr. Beena Ahmed (Project Co-PI, UNSW), and Dr. Fozia Umber (Project Co-PI, Shalamar Hospital) on this initiative.
In Pakistan, where maternal healthcare outcomes are less than satisfactory, the absence of documented medical records for expectant mothers seeking care presents a significant challenge for healthcare professionals. The lack of information impedes doctors’ ability to provide accurate diagnoses and personalized care that takes into account socio-economic and lifestyle factors, which are critical determinants of maternal health outcomes. To address this issue, Dr. Mustafa and her team are developing Awaaz-e-Sehat, a voice-enabled, mobile phone-based, conversational AI assistant. This innovative tool will enable maternal healthcare workers in Pakistan to create and maintain detailed electronic medical records.
Awaaz-e-Sehat will capture audio responses in various languages based on specific prompts using a proof-of-concept system that includes an intuitive user interface, a speech recognition module, and a text recognition module. These responses converted into text and used to populate a template electronic medical record in Urdu. The system’s efficacy evaluated by maternal healthcare workers at Shalamar Hospital in Lahore, where it used to collect records from 500 patients.
The primary motivation behind Dr. Mustafa’s research proposal is to enhance maternal health outcomes in Pakistan. She commented, “Pakistan faces some of the poorest pregnancy outcomes globally, with a maternal mortality ratio of 186 deaths per 100,000 live births, in stark contrast to the developed-country average of just 12 deaths per 100,000. Pakistan’s maternal healthcare system is severely under-resourced, with no available tools to support electronic record-keeping.”
Dr. Mustafa’s ultimate goal is to implement Awaaz-e-Sehat across maternal healthcare facilities throughout Pakistan. She believes that this initiative has the potential not only to enhance patient treatment but also to generate datasets for training diagnostic AI tools aimed at addressing maternal health outcomes in Pakistan.