Dar es Salaam — Tanzania is facing acute shortage of radiology and imaging experts and tools, making related treatment especially in the rural areas more challenging.
There are only 60 radiology experts and about 410 radiographers distributed across hospitals in the country.
This was revealed during a second day of the 9th Pan African Congress of Radiology and Imaging's (Pacori) congress that saw over 300 radiology experts from across Africa discussing about challenges and way forward of this specialised medical field in the continent.
According to the chairman of Tanzania Radiology Society (Taraso), Dr Ramadhani Kazena, although funding is also one of the biggest challenges, but shortage of experts causes many patients to take long before they are attended to or given referrals.
Speaking at the meeting, Dr Kazena said that the efforts made by the government and private sector will, however, manage to put the country in good position at least in the next three years.
"There was a time when I was the only radiologist in Dar es Salaam. This was for two whole years. Things are improving and maybe we will be better in three years time because a number of medical schools have introduced courses related to this field," said Dr Kazena.
He said according to global standard ratio, one radiologist is supposed to attend to 50,000 patients. With only 60 registered radiologists for a country with approximately 50 million people, local experts are overwhelmed.
According to him, the government needs to take deliberate measures towards training more radiology and related experts, noting, for example, that the lack of bio-medical engineers has led to a number of medical equipment being dumped due to poor maintenance and usage. "We have equipment and machines which are very expensive and need to be taken care of carefully, but most of them are damaged within short period of time because of lack of engineers. We see how many times our MRI machine breaks down, this is the same to other equipment," he added.
According to him, there are less than 10 bio-medical engineers and medical physicists in the country.
During his opening remark, the permanent secretary in the Ministry of Health, Community Development, Gender, Elderly and Children, Dr Mpoki Ulusubisya, said that Tanzania still needs over 100 mixed radiology and imaging personnel.
"I understand that an accurate diagnosis depends on the quality radiology and imaging services. It is therefore important that each individual country should strive to provide acceptable quality facilities for quality medical services for better outcomes," he said.