Albania is a country in Southeastern Europe’s Balkan Peninsula and has total population of around 3 million. There are about 7,700 new cancer cases every year. World Bank report in 2013 mentioned that Albania has one of the most unequal health systems in Europe and Asia.
Albania currently has large gaps in diagnostic imaging and screening due to insufficient staff training and equipment. There are about 30 radiologists in the whole country with only one radiology residency program with capacity of four residents per year.
Program manager, Dr. Mema, with other RAD-AID volunteers, completed Radiology-Readiness Assessment in Tirana and Korçë in November 2017. In Tirana, RAD-AID went to the American Hospital in Tirana (AHT) which is a group of three hospitals and privately owned tertiary referral centers. The hospital served around 47,000 patients with capacity of 381 beds. AHT does not have residency program. Challenges in providing radiology services include lack of staff training, lack of imaging equipment, and patients’ affordability. Currently, there is no national breast cancer screening program. Diagnostic breast exams are done using mammography and/ or ultrasound. AHT also performs breast MRI and is the only facility that offers breast MR imaging.
In Korçë, the 6th largest city in Albania, there is only one hospital serving around 76,000 people. There is a shortage of radiologists and equipment. There are only 3 radiologists with old and often not working equipment.
While completing the Radiology-Readiness Assessment in November 2017, RAD-AID team also attended the annual national medical conference and gave lectures on breast imaging and neuroradiology to residents and radiologists. The team expanded the lectures on musculoskeletal radiology and breast imaging focusing on ultrasound-guided biopsy for a 2018 conference. Dr. Mema envisions to strengthen radiology education and training, and initiate national breast screening program in Albania.