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WHO Introduces S.A.R.A.H., a Digital Health Promoter Enhanced by Generative AI

The WHO generative AI digital health promoter tool will guide people on healthcare rights in their location along with other health information

In anticipation of World Health Day, themed ‘My Health, My Right’, the World Health Organization (WHO) has announced the deployment of S.A.R.A.H., a digital health promoter prototype equipped with empathetic response capabilities driven by generative artificial intelligence (AI), in a news release on April 2.

S.A.R.A.H., shorthand for Smart AI Resource Assistant for Health, marks an advancement in AI-powered health information avatars, leveraging language models and technology. It offers engagement on health subjects 24/7 in 8 languages across various devices, said WHO.

The WHO’s digital health advocate is designed to furnish information spanning health domains, including lifestyle practices and mental well-being, aiding individuals in optimizing their health journeys. Its primary goal is to furnish an additional resource for individuals to exercise their health rights, irrespective of their location.

Earlier in 2023, Google’s Chief Health Officer opined Karen DeSalvo against the use of generative AI in healthcare, saying it’s not yet time to launch it in healthcare as it is still in the research phase.

What is S.A.R.A.H.?

S.A.R.A.H., also referred to as Sarah, assists users in comprehending risk factors associated with leading global causes of mortality such as cancer, heart disease, lung disease, and diabetes. It offers guidance on accessing current information related to tobacco cessation, physical activity, nutritional habits, and stress management, among other topics.

 “S.A.R.A.H. gives us a glimpse of how artificial intelligence could be used in the future to improve access to health information more interactively. I call on the research community to help us continue to explore how this technology could narrow inequities and help people access up-to-date, reliable health information,”

– Dr Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus, WHO Director-General

S.A.R.A.H.’s transition to generative AI enables more precise real-time responses, dynamic personalized interactions, and empathetic engagements resembling human discourse. This technology is underpinned by Soul Machines Biological AI, the release mentioned.

Despite its potential, WHO advocates for ongoing research to ascertain the benefits and challenges associated with this technology. Ethical considerations including equitable access, privacy, safety, accuracy, data protection, and bias remain paramount in the integration of AI into public health initiatives.

The S.A.R.A.H. project is committed to continual learning and the development of a prototype that provides reliable, responsible and accessible information. Previous versions of S.A.R.A.H., known as Florence, were instrumental in disseminating vital public health messages during the COVID-19 pandemic, covering topics such as the virus, vaccines, tobacco use, healthy eating and physical activity.

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