Tanzania’s 55 million people experience challenges in accessing adequate health resources, such as hospitals, medical training centers, and diagnostic radiology services.
Tanzania is still building capacity towards ensuring universal access to basic radiology services; radiology experts and equipment remain two of the country’s areas of greatest need. With just 60 radiologists nationwide — or roughly one radiologist per million Tanzanians — the health system has much work ahead before the country meets the world’s benchmark rate: one radiologist serving 50,000 people.
In order for radiologists to contribute meaningfully to Tanzanian leadership development priorities, radiologists have enjoined biomedical engineers and medical physicists’ participation in an enabling environment that supports health infrastructure maintenance through knowledge transfers (The Citizen, 2017).
RAD-AID in Tanzania
RAD-AID in Tanzania has grown to four program sites — Arusha, Moshi, Mwanza, and Dar es Salaam — where program director Dr. Munir Ghesani and program manager Mr. Gary Whitlock lead RAD-AID’s program of assistance, which spans from education, to service delivery, to technical assistance in diagnostic radiology and radiation oncology. RAD-AID also supports the development of advanced cross-sectional imaging by training radiologists, sonographers, radiation therapists, and radiologic technologists. Since 2016, RAD-AID nuclear medicine radiologists and technologists have assisted Aga Khan Health Services on an ongoing basis under a partnership with the Society of Nuclear Medicine and Molecular Imaging (SNMMI).
Dar es Salaam
RAD-AID’s work in Aga Khan Hospital includes training the hospital’s staff and residents through monthly webinars, assisting advancement of clinical protocols and best practices, strengthening radiology infrastructure, and building a picture archiving and communication system (PACS) workstation with voice recognition system. RAD-AID’s new focus is expanding interventional radiology services and providing technical assistance to the radiation oncology department, as the hospital builds a radiation oncology wing.
In 2015, RAD-AID partnered with NSK Hospitals Limited (NSKHL) in Arusha, a regional capital, to help build a diagnostic radiology center. RAD-AID performed a radiology readiness survey in early 2016, followed by partnership agreement. RAD-AID volunteer radiologists, technologists, sonographers, and nurses have periodically provided technical assistance to NSKHL staff.
RAD-AID’s program of support in Tanzania has grown to include Kilimanjaro Christian Medical Centre (KCMC) in Moshi, a teaching hospital with 600 beds located in the foothills of the eponymous mountain, with support from New York University’s School of Medicine. RAD-AID periodically sends volunteers to train KCMC’s residents and nurses. Radiology experts and equipment remain two of KCMC’s areas of greatest need. RAD-AID is currently finalizing an agreement between KCMC and NSKHL so that KCMC’s radiology residents can rotate at NSKHL. RAD-AID is also working to connect the PACS in both institutions.
Among RAD-AID’s long term priorities is support of Tanzania’s goal to increase nurses’ role in the skilled caregiving. To this end, two volunteer RAD-AID advanced practice registered nurse (APRN)’s have lectured at NSKHL and KCMC in basic life support (BLS), advanced cardiac life support (ACLS), infection control, injuries, patient assessment, and other topics. An APRN also taught the first and second “Stop the Bleed” class in all of Tanzania and the second and third class in all of Africa.
In 2017, RAD-AID, Pink Ribbon Red Ribbon (PRRR), and Mwanza’s Bugando Medical Centre (BMC)—a large hospital with over 900 beds that serves a population of 16 million—partnered to launch Tanzania’s second radiation oncology center. Following RAD-AID’s initial visit and completion of the radiology readiness survey, teams of radiation oncologists, technologists, and therapists periodically assist at BMC.