Tanzania’s 58 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 — which span from education, to service delivery, to technical assistance in diagnostic radiology, nuclear medicine 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 radiologists by assisting advancement of clinical protocols and best practices, strengthening radiology infrastructure, and supporting the IT. RAD-AID’s focus at Aga Khan is in the nuclear medicine department, as such services are limited throughout Tanzania.
In late 2018, RAD-AID established a partnership with Tanzania’s largest referral hospital, Muhimbili National Hospital. As of early 2019, radiologists, technologists, and sonographers have been supporting the radiology department with clinical hands-on and didactic education.
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 a 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. An earlier partnership with the hospital, NSKHL, and RAD-AID, allowed for visiting radiologists to rotate through KCMC to help support radiological education.
In mid-2019, KCMC updated the equipment in its radiology department with a state-of-the-art CT scanner, which was a welcome addition to the department which already hosted an older generation CT unit. In the fall of 2019, the hospital acquired its first 1.5T MRI unit, to better serve the population of Northern Tanzania and Southern Kenya, as well as 2 new DR x-ray suites. In response to KCMC’s expansion, RAD-AID also expanded its partnership with KCMC and has since periodically sent volunteers to train KCMC residents, technologists and nurses.
In 2020, RAD-AID Tanzania partnered with the East Africa Medical Assistance Foundation, a Minnesota 501(c)(3) nonprofit organization dedicated to supporting and enhancing radiology services at KCMC. Through donations, the foundation provides monetary support for the radiology training program – for radiology residents and AMOs (assistant medical officers), assists in providing equipment for the imaging department, and provides volunteer opportunities for radiologists to teach at KCMCs School of Radiology. To date, the radiology program at KCMC has graduated over 100 residents and AMOs that have served throughout the country.
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, a Radiology Readiness survey was completed and a multidisciplinary team provided guidance and support at BMC.
RAD-AID Nursing in Tanzania
Among RAD-AID’s long-term priorities is support of Tanzania’s goal to increase nurses’ role in skilled caregiving. To this end, two RAD-AID advanced practice registered nurse (APRN) volunteers 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.
Further projects involving nursing include continued support to nursing programs in Moshi and Arusha, on-site support to radiology nursing, and reviewing and supporting the role of nurses and midwives in obstetrical ultrasound.