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Govt directs hospitals to upgrade skills in radiology

TO address the country’s high demand for radiologists across the country, the government has directed two medical training institutions to start teaching these experts at tertiary level.

Currently, there are only two diploma programmes in Diagnostic Radiography running at two higher learning institutions, the Muhimbili University of Health and Allied Sciences (MUHAS) and the Catholic University of Health and Allied Sciences (CUHAS-Bugando).

But the Minister for Health, Community Development, Gender, Elderly and Children Ummy Mwalimu has challenged the two institutions to develop capacities ready for Degree programmes the earliest possible – specifically to keep pace with rapid advancement in medical technologies.

The minister gave the directives here when she commissioned a new CT scan machine at the Bugando Medical Centre over the weekend, calling for speedy completion of all procedures to facilitate smooth takeoff.

“… my ministry is looking for funds … to be sourced (possibly) during the next financial year, so we can train more cardiologists, radiation oncologists and radiologists to bridge serious gaps of these experts within our hospitals,” said the Minister. She challenged Muhimbili and Bugando to ensure that the country produces ‘well-trained medical experts capable of operating modern high-tech equipment’ currently in use for advanced diagnostic services globally.

“… It’s important that we in Tanzania train our own experts,” the minister said, stressing that it was ‘too expensive’ to train them overseas. The minister also challenged Bugando staff to take good care of the recently installed state of the art medical equipment — including the CT scan — that would go a long way to saving lives “previously lost due to absence of the specialised diagnostic services.”

Briefing the minister, BMC Executive Director Dr Abel Makubi said that, every day 30 out of every 800 ‘outpatients’ needed a CT scan, and thanked the government for its timely move in ‘re-introducing’ specialised services at the zonal referral hospital.

However, he expressed concern over perennial shortages of consultants (specialist doctors) that does not match increases in both out- and inpatients, with statistics showing that between July and December 2017, some 102,402 patients were referred to the BMC compared to just 79,774 referrals the previous year.

There’s good news, though: according to Dr Makubi, the hospital’s cancer patients will no longer have to travel to Ocean Road Cancer Institute in Dar es Salaam from next year following the purchase of its own Brachtherapy machine worth 550,000 Euros (about 2.5bn/-), thanks to the International Atomic Agency (IAA).

But, he says, the BMC needs at least 4bn/- to replace its outdated equipment in use at its five operative theatres, and that five more theatres were needed to accommodate the growing number of patients in need of surgery

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