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WHO AI for Health workshop - Nov 12, 2019
A Global Healthcare Challenge
ITU/WHO Focus Group on AI For Health Topic
WHO AI for Health workshop - Nov 12, 2019

New Delhi, India 12 November 2019 

Contact: tsbevents@itu.int


At the kind invitation of the National Institute of Communication Finance of India, the Department of Telecommunications of India, the Indian Council of Medical Research, the Department of Health Research, and the Ministry of Health and Family Welfare (MOHFW), the International Telecommunication Union (ITU) and the World Health Organization (WHO) are organizing an ITU and WHO workshop on “AI for Health" in New Delhi, India from 11 to 12 November, 2019. 

This workshop is the seventh in a series of workshops linked to the ITU/WHO Focus Group on Artificial Intelligence for Health (FG-AI4H). The aim of these workshops is to provide a platform for researchers, engineers, practitioners, entrepreneurs and policy makers to discuss standardization opportunities for the assessment of AI for health solutions and to identify use cases and data required for the evaluation and validation with open benchmarks. The workshop will be followed by the seventh meeting of the ITU-T FG-AI4H) from 13 to 15 November 2019, at the same venue. The workshop and meeting will be held in English only.

Target Audience

Participation in the workshop and the Focus Group meeting is open to ITU Member States, Sector Members, Associates and Academic Institutions and to any individual from a country that is a member of ITU who wishes to contribute to the work. This includes individuals who are also members of international, regional and national organizations. Participation in the workshop and the Focus Group meeting is free of charge.   

A Global Healthcare Challenge

Diabetic Retinopathy (DR) has become a global healthcare challenge today due to the wide prevalence of diabetes worldwide. There are over 422 million with diabetes worldwide as per the WHO, and the numbers are rising at an alarming rate. Everyone with diabetes is at risk for DR, and preventing vision impairment and loss requires periodic screenings by a trained professional.


However, as the chart below from the International Council of Ophthalmology shows, there are not enough trained eye doctors in many parts of the world to screen everyone at risk. In India, for example, there are over 72 million people with diabetes and an estimated 25 million are afflicted with DR and 7 million with VTDR. However, India only has 15,000 trained ophthalmologists in a nation of 1.3 billion people – or a mere 9 specialists per a million people. Kenya, with a population of 48 million has less than 100 ophthalmologists, and Angola, less than 20 for 29 million people. In addition to the dire shortage of trained professionals, many of the affected people live in remote areas with little or no access to an eye care clinic or a screening center.


Source: International Council of Ophthalmology. Number of Ophthalmologists in Practice and Training Worldwide.




Diabetic Retinopathy is clearly a global health care challenge that urgently needs innovative solutions in order to prevent vision loss among millions of people at risk worldwide. Recent advances in Artificial Intelligence can be harnessed to address this challenge. Click here to learn how AI can help.

ITU/WHO Focus Group on AI For Health Topic


Arun Shroff, Founder & CEO of Xtend.AI  as taken on the role of a topic lead in the ITU/WHO Focus Group on AI for Health (FGAI4H) at the third meeting of the focus group in Lausanne, Switzerland in January, 2019.  As a topic driver for the Ophthalmology topic group ,  Arun will be leading the effort in creating benchmarking  to evaluate and asses AI applications in Ophthalmology.


The ITU/WHO FG-AI4H is a joint initiative of two UN agencies  – the International Telecommunications Union (ITU)  and the World Health Organization (WHO).  It was formed to establish a standardized assessment framework for the evaluation of AI-based methods for health, diagnosis, triage or treatment decisions.  The group was established by ITU-T Study Group 16 at its meeting in Ljubljana, Slovenia, 9-20 July 2018.


The scope of the FGAI4H, its objectives and processes are described in a commentary in The Lancet and a white paper. The documentation of all previous meetings can be found on the collaboration site (free ITU account needed; see instructions for help).