Can AI Aid Expecting Women in Zambia?


  • An entrepreneur in Zambia is using artificial intelligence (AI) to improve maternal and child health.
  • The project, called DawaMom, leverages AI tools, mobile clinics, and digital platforms to provide better care for pregnant women.

An entrepreneur in Zambia is using artificial intelligence (AI) to improve care for pregnant women in the country. Tafadzwa Kalisto Munzwa, founder and CEO of Dawa Health, is leading the DawaMom project, which aims to leverage AI tools, mobile clinics, and digital platforms to improve maternal and child health. Over 60 community health workers currently support in-community healthcare through DawaMom, and over 800 mothers are signed up on the mobile platform. The project utilizes generative AI models that respond to patient queries and analyze ultrasound scan images to identify high-risk pregnancies. The goal is to democratize access to maternal healthcare and reduce maternal and child mortality in Lower/Middle income countries.

Zambia is an ideal location to test this technology due to the government’s emphasis on digitizing the healthcare system and the relatively high rates of mobile and internet penetration. However, there are challenges to overcome, such as AI hallucination, biased training datasets, and over-reliance on AI technology. Munzwa is working with an anthropology PhD student from the University of Cape Town and a biostatistician/physician to generate empirical evidence around their work. DawaMom has been recognized by MIT Solve in their Caring Economy category.

The use of AI technology for community healthcare is not limited to Zambia. Libyan doctor-turned-tech-CEO Mohamed Aburawi has mobilized a team of remote mental health professionals to provide trauma counseling, grief support, and stress management services to the area of northeastern Libya affected by severe flooding. Through partnerships with local telecom companies, Aburawi’s startup Speetar offers data packages to affected families and incorporates localized linguistic and cultural nuances in their platform. An AI bot trained on disaster-specific data helps guide patients before they connect with a specialist.

These projects highlight the potential of AI in improving access to healthcare and addressing global challenges. Munzwa believes that scientists from the Global South should play a leading role in research and solutions to these challenges, as they are most affected by the issues and have a better understanding of the barriers that exist for mass adoption of solutions developed in the Global North.