What We Do
To this day, the majority of people in the world are still unable to access any of the medical imaging tests we all need to get the best quality health care. Tests like pregnancy scans, X-rays for chest infections or CT scans after major accidents and in cancer treatment.
Until just a few years ago, this seemed an almost impossible challenge to overcome; equipment cost and maintenance were well beyond the reach of many healthcare budgets and experienced staff few and far between.
While this is still the case in very many places, our increasingly digitised and interconnected world has opened up real opportunities to build collaborations between healthcare workers in underserved communities and those who can share their capacity. At the same time, technological advances are improving equipment availability, suitability and reducing cost.
Now is the time to push for real change: we need basic imaging tests for all, to achieve sustainable development goals and health for all.
We create this change through our three pillars of support:
Education, clinical service support, and research.
Where We Operate
Education is a key component of sustainable change and capacity building. Therefore, collaborating with our local partners in all areas of education relevant to imaging will form an important part of the organisation’s work.
Not only for staff employed in diagnostic imaging, such as X-ray technicians and radiologists, but also for other healthcare workers such as medical officers, nurses, undergraduate and postgraduate trainees, who often have to interpret or perform imaging tests without access to specialist radiology support.
In addition to supporting education for our beneficiaries overseas, educational modules for our own volunteers will be developed, to ensure that their contribution will be relevant to local needs and the facilities available.
Many hospitals have a shortage of staff able to perform and report the imaging tests that their patients need.
Supporting such hospitals with longer-term, on-site volunteers is an important way of creating sustainable collaborations for the future. At the same time it provides the much-needed experience for imaging professionals interested in Global Health Radiology, to gain a better understanding of local needs, challenges, diseases and the role of imaging in a setting so very different to their own.
Clinical Service Support
We aim to support well-planned and appropriate volunteering opportunities, led by the needs of our partners. Although indirect support via tele-radiology is also very helpful, it alone cannot replace the importance of having on-site skilled staff to support service development, training and as a local contact for remote assistance.
Diagnostic Imaging uses images, such as X-rays, ultrasound, CT and MRI scans to make a diagnosis. These images can be reviewed directly in the radiology department, or they can be sent to a remote location. This is known as tele-radiology.
With increasing access to internet services and cloud-based software solutions, tele-radiology services have greatly expanded in recent years. In many places, occasional advice by remote radiology partners via email or WhatsApp is a common method of communication. While this may be the only available option for a quick second opinion, it carries patient data security risks and is not a solution for larger workloads.
One of our aims is to apply a secure, low cost tele-radiology platform to assist departments across borders with their image interpretation and education. This will allow a wider group of volunteer experts to participate in our work. For radiologists working in low and middle-income countries this remote support can provide an opportunity to discuss cases with colleagues and can help with reduction in workload, freeing up time for activities such as education and research. It can also provide access to a specialist radiologist opinion for those situations where there is no local expert available.
CLINICAL GOVERNANCE AND QUALITY ASSURANCE
Quality of care and patient health outcomes are positively affected by good clinical governance and Quality Assurance. Building capacity in these areas will therefore form an integral part of our clinical service support.
Diseases and how they present, as well as patient circumstances are very different across the world. An imaging test which is useful in one setting, may not be so in another.
For many countries and regions and for many diseases there is little good quality evidence related to the role of imaging and there is a great need for more research in this area.
Through existing links with UK research institutions, such as the Liverpool School of Tropical Medicine, we aim to increase opportunities for imaging research in Low and Middle income regions.
This will include assessments of the impact of projects supported by our own organisation.