Caribbean People’s Adaptation to AI in Healthcare: Exploring the Role of AI in Revolutionizing Diagnosis, Treatment and Patient Care in the Caribbean.

When people hear about the Caribbean, they immediately think “beaches, hotels, vacation, island, and everything fun”. Behind all that, we are rich in and rooted in our native culture and are filled with the most dynamic and strong minded set of people. We are able to make the best of the worst situations, but still, will always stand up for what we believe is right. It is a hard task to change our minds when we are already fixated on something. This takes us to our adaptation process to things that are largely dominating the world. Technology, for instance. A rapid takeover has been in effect almost all over the world. Not to mention the amplifying role of the use of artificial intelligence (AI) in almost every aspect of life. Artificial intelligence is the simulation of human characteristics and intelligence that is input into machines that are designed to mimic these actions. With special focus on the Caribbean, AI has mostly presented its efficiency in the areas of communication and education. Our adaptation to this rapid growth of technological expansion is slower compared to more advanced territories of the world. As a developing region, we lack certain resources to facilitate this swift shift.
The accommodation of this takeover doesn’t solely rest on insufficient resources but the well-known rigid mindset of our people. This is strongly reflected in our health practices as we have strict measures and remedies when it comes to taking care of our bodies. The Caribbean is famous for its herbal treatments and allegiance to the use of the benefits of natural medicine. With artificial intelligence becoming the new norm, it stands to question whether or not we as Caribbean people will accept this new implementation if and when it is introduced.

The use of artificial intelligence in healthcare worldwide is becoming very popular. Co-founder and CEO at Prope Health AI, Navid Toosi Saidy, has summed up how AI intertwines with revolutionizing diagnosis, treatment and patient care. He says, “AI can actually save lives and improve healthcare for millions of patients around the world.” According to reports, the use of AI in healthcare will only continue to grow. According to Statista, the market value for artificial intelligence is projected to be at $187 billion by 2030. This means there is no escaping it.

So far, AI has been developed to be used in medical fields like dermatology to treat and diagnose skin cancer. It has also been aimed at tackling neurological diseases and diabetes. With highly technological developments like AI, The National Library of Medicine reports that AI systems are being implemented in healthcare through the use of AI assistants that are available 24 hours at the disposal of medical practitioners. However, there is a more hands-on approach with the implementation of AI in healthcare that raises the concern of Caribbean people being susceptible. How exactly will artificial intelligence replace natural remedies?

The diseases that AI has been developed to treat are coincidentally some of the most common diseases in the Caribbean. The main channels in which AI will be directly applied in healthcare are through diagnosis and treatment. If it has been proven that AI has indeed helped in these areas, then it should be a great asset if implemented in our healthcare system in the Caribbean.

However, you might mention technology taking care of health to a deeply rooted Caribbean folk and hear of bush or plant alternatives that could cure these illnesses. It might be a risky task to introduce this, but maybe all hope is not lost. I will not limit my people’s ability to think rationally, and critically about such dire situations. However, the fact remains that a traditional set of people might take a lot more effort to convince of such change.

All this tells us that the effects of artificial intelligence do not rest solely on the technological landscape, they are also culturally motivated and affected. Our Caribbean culture possesses somewhat of a wall that might not be knocked down, but has a secret door, when it comes adapting to new information. We are wired mentally to think that anything new or anything that has to do with the government might have the ability to harm us. With this mentality, that is, our way of life, it is safe to say that Caribbean people will more than likely be skeptical if artificial intelligence is introduced in the health industry.

One of my biggest concerns is if there is a rejection of this implementation, will that be a big setback for us as a region? The world is moving on, and honestly, the Caribbean is in the back section. As mentioned, we are slow in development especially where technology is concerned. We are not at the level that America, for instance, is at. Amidst the lack of resources, I think the government is also cautious with relaying this new information of development at times.
We can go back to Covid-19. Although there were doubts about the vaccine all over the world, it was a very big issue in the Caribbean. Many of us were convinced that it was a form of oppression, and as expected, many turned to their natural remedies to fight off the coronavirus. The belief in this was especially heightened after the death of individuals who took the vaccine. Many believed that it was the vaccine that caused the death of those persons, rather than the virus. Although this wasn’t so much technology, it was still a strategy implemented by the government to help fight an illness. It will be similar to the implementation of AI in healthcare. Therefore, we might be apprehensive about this.

This is just an example of one possible outcome in terms of the reaction of Caribbean people to AI in healthcare. Will we be our own downfall? While we complain about our limited access to the developments of the world, are we somewhat responsible for that or will we continue to stand in our tradition? There may not be a right and wrong choice, but the consequences of either will remain.


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