WHO Guidance: Ethics and governance of artificial intelligence for health

27 October, 2021

'WHO recognizes that Artificial Intelligence (AI) holds great promise for the practice of public health and medicine. WHO also recognizes that, to fully reap the benefits of AI, ethical challenges for health care systems, practitioners and beneficiaries of medical and public health services must be addressed. Many of the ethical concerns described in this report predate the advent of AI, although AI itself presents a number of novel concerns.

'The WHO Guidance Document, “Ethics and Governance of Artificial Intelligence for Health” was produced jointly by WHO’s Health Ethics and Governance unit in the department of Research for Health and by the department of Digital Health and Innovation.

6 Key Ethical Principles: AI for Health

1. Protecting human autonomy

2. Promoting human well-being, safety, and public interest.

3. Ensuring transparency, explainability and intelligibility.

4. Fostering responsibility and accountability.

5. Ensuring inclusiveness and equity.

6. Promoting AI that is responsive and sustainable.

The full guidance is available here:


It is prefaced by a quote from the famed Nobel Laureate Stephen Hawking: ”Our future is a race between the growing power of technology and the wisdom with which we use it.”

I also note that HIFA steering group member Najeeb Al Shorbaji is among the expert group that produced the report. Najeeb, would you like to say a bit about the report and perhaps how this relates to the HIFA remit? One obvious potential is that AI could progressively improve clinical decision-making and evidence-informed health care.

Neil Pakenham-Walsh, HIFA Coordinator, neil@hifa.org www.hifa.org