APRU’s latest AI For Social Good Report spotlights the need for transforming social policies and services in Bangladesh and Thailand
March 26, 2024

A collaborative project between APRU, ESCAP and Google.org brought together academics and government stakeholders to develop country-specific AI governance frameworks and empower transparent AI solutions to tackle socio-economic challenges in Asia and the Pacific


HONG KONG–(BUSINESS WIRE)–The Association of Pacific Rim Universities (APRU) and the United Nations Economic and Social Commission for Asia and the Pacific (ESCAP) have joined hands in a groundbreaking initiative called “AI for Social Good: Strengthening Capabilities and Governance Frameworks in Asia and the Pacific.” This strategic partnership, funded by Google.org, aims to enhance AI governance frameworks and capabilities, fostering transparent ecosystems and AI solutions to prompt resolution toward critical socio-economic challenges in the Asia-Pacific region.

Working closely with academic researchers and government stakeholders in Bangladesh and Thailand, the program provided research insights and practical suggestions to accelerate the development of data-driven policies and strategies, effectively leveraging AI for societal good. Noteworthy outcomes include country-wide case studies on

  1. How AI applications are being mobilised for maternal health in Bangladesh
  2. Key initiatives addressing digital health governance and data governance for poverty alleviation in Thailand


Bangladesh: Enhancing Maternal Health through AI Application

Maternity care in Bangladesh faces substantial challenges, including limited monitoring and access barriers. To address these issues and boost health outcomes, APRU, in collaboration with the Bangladesh Aspire to Innovate (a2i) Programme, has partnered with research teams from the National University of Singapore (NUS), Korea Advanced Institute of Science and Technology (KAIST), and the University of Hawai’i to explore AI innovations in maternity care.

The project is aimed to assess the potential of AI applications in supporting maternal health objectives in Bangladesh, with a focus on user group receptivity and alignment with existing antenatal care delivery systems. It emphasized the importance of community health workers as key stakeholders in the continuum of antenatal care, highlighting their potential to benefit from digitalization and ultimately AI tools. In the project report, researchers recommended the completion of digitalizing standard antenatal care data entry in the public health system, as well as the implementation of a mobile-based system for appointment tracking and automated reminders for expecting mothers and community health workers, to ensure widespread adoption.

Professor Olivia Jensen, Deputy Director and Lead Scientist (Environment and Climate) at NUS, research lead of the NUS team in the project stated: “The collaboration across sectors enabled us to incorporate perspectives from academic research on risk perception and communication, which were highly regarded by our government partners. Moreover, to fully harness the future potential of AI in antenatal care, strategic digitisation efforts should prioritise inter-operability, strengthen underlying infrastructure and organisational processes and target universal coverage with a focus on the most vulnerable groups. Systems and applications should be designed to meet the needs of healthcare providers and expecting mothers, based on a strong foundation of evidence.”

Thailand: AI Solutions for Digital Health Governance and Poverty Alleviation

In Thailand, researchers from NUS identified barriers to sharing medical and healthcare data and have recommended tangible policy recommendations to the Thai Government. These recommendations include developing data sharing guidelines, promoting data exchange platforms, and facilitating stakeholder dialogues to address challenges in digital health governance.

Another project, led by the Australian National University (ANU), focuses on enhancing internal information exchange within Thailand’s administration to optimize the utilization of advanced analytics for poverty alleviation. The research highlights that cultural barriers impede the effectiveness of data utilization in targeted anti-poverty efforts, rather than technical or legal obstacles.

Dr. Sarah Logan of The Australian National University said: “These initiatives and research findings are instrumental to Thailand’s poverty alleviation goals as they highlight challenges related to data integration, standardization, resource allocation, and high-level leadership directives in the public welfare domain. By implementing recommended policy measures and navigating cultural biases, we are confident that Thailand can fully leverage advanced AI and analytics platforms and create positive impact toward enhanced outcomes in poverty alleviation.”

The “AI for Social Good” project showcases the value of uniting cross-disciplinary and cross-sectoral stakeholders in a collaborative effort to conduct research and craft policy recommendations. Professor Olivia Jensen said: “This project serves as an example of how academia, government, public and private organisations can come together to imagine and create innovative solutions within an ethical and responsible AI ecosystem.” The project emphasizes the maximization of AI benefits while minimizing potential risks to fairness, inclusivity, and sustainable development.

With the successful rollout of the “AI for Social Good” project, APRU aims to foster more cross-border connections and provide active support in developing country-specific AI governance frameworks.

High-resolution images can be downloaded here:
Link: https://gallery.sinclaircomms.com/gallery/APRU/detail/AI+For+Social+Good
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The final report of “AI for Social Good” can be downloaded here:

About APRU:

As a network of leading universities linking the Americas, Asia, and Australasia, APRU (the Association of Pacific Rim Universities) brings together thought leaders, researchers, and policymakers to exchange ideas and collaborate on practical solutions to the challenges of the 21st century. It leverages its members’ collective education and research capabilities into the international public policy process. APRU’s strategic priorities highlight the following three directions: 1. providing a neutral platform for high-level policy dialogue; 2. exploring innovative solutions for a sustainable future; 3. supporting diversity, inclusion, and minorities.


Marks Xu
[email protected]
+852 6878 1753

Lucy Lu
[email protected]
+852 5494 9891