Delivering leading edge diagnostic tools to developing markets

Basic diagnostic x-ray services are a key component of primary health care delivery. However, two-thirds of the world's population is without access to it, according to World Health Organization (WHO) estimates. The WHO further estimates that there is a need for one diagnostic imaging machine for every 50,000 people. The World Health Imaging Alliance announced that it has cemented key partnerships that will enable it to significantly ramp up its efforts to bring digital imaging technology to sites in need around the world.

Picture: pixelio/Detlev Beutler
Picture: pixelio/Detlev Beutler

Access to imaging may be life saving. As Mladen Poluta, Director of the Healthcare Technology Management Program at the University of Cape Town, explains, “HIVpositive patients are at an increased risk of contracting (pulmonary) tuberculosis, which can be diagnosed quickly with a chest x-ray. Even those on prophylactic TB treatment require chest x-rays. Given the large disease burden associated with TB and HIV, in particular, cost-effective and sustainable imaging solutions at the primary level of healthcare - with telediagnosis as an added value extension - will result in significant gains in the quality of care delivered, thanks to earlier diagnosis and commencement of treatment.”

The World Health Imaging Alliance (WHIA) is a non-profit, diagnostic medical imaging solutions provider that leverages vendor, NGO and academic relationships to deliver low cost, diagnostic tools to underserved communities worldwide. WHIA’s vision is to facilitate the deployment of 20,000 of these systems worldwide, thus providing one billion people with access to diagnostic imaging. In order to provide a complete solution, WHIA has developed partner relationships with key vendors.

Sedecal, a global OEM manufacturer of x-ray systems, has partnered with WHIA to provide the WHO-approved x-ray machine. Sedecal's commitment is to assist WHIA on the technical side, putting its engineering resources at the disposal of the project and developing the x-ray systems for these special applications.

Digital medical imaging is provided through a relationship with Carestream Health. Several of Carestream Health’s Point of Care CR systems have been donated for use in the pilot installations. “We welcome the opportunity to support WHIA’s ongoing efforts to find sustainable solutions to the unique challenges facing the delivery of healthcare in developing countries,” said Diana Nole, President, Digital Medical Solutions, Carestream Health.

The software systems that manage the digital images have been provided through a
partnership with Merge Healthcare, a leading medical imaging software solutions
company. Merge has pledged staff time, software licensing and product development
assistance for the current and next generation of WHIA solutions. Merge is currently
working to develop a new generation of its world renowned MergeBox™ to encapsulate
a site’s total image management requirements in one rugged box.

Another key facet to WHIA’s ability to provide a sustainable solution is its partnerships
within the academic community. “By establishing close ties to the local universities in
the communities with WHIA sites, we’ve significantly increased the odds of a successful
implementation and the sustainability of these clinics. Local universities serve as an
anchor for WHIA’s efforts and an ongoing resource for the clinics,” explains Matt
Glucksberg, Professor and Chair of Biomedical Engineering, McCormick School of
Engineering, Northwestern University, and a WHIA Board member.

More information on WHIA can be found at www.whia2009.org

26.05.2009

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