Association of Radiologists of Uganda (ARU) Conference
On Saturday, August 17th, a few of us from the group went to Kampala for the Association of Radiologists of Uganda (ARU). You might say that the ARU is equivalent to the New England Roentgen Ray Society (NRRS)…so let’s do a little comparison to gain perspective. The NRRS has over 600 member Radiologists from New England, a geographic area with a population of ~ 14 million. Uganda is about the size of all the New England states lumped together and has a population of 35 million. So how many radiologists are there in Uganda? 42. I am not joking! And, 32 of these 42 live in the city of Kampala, whose population is ~1.7 million. The other 10 radiologists in Uganda are “up-country”, meaning that they work in more rural areas.
With that brief exploration of demographics, I think it is safe to say that access to radiology is limited in Uganda.
Kristen DeStigter and Susan Harvey were guest speakers at this conference, which was dedicated to breast imaging. The radiologists in Uganda are eager to learn even though they are still in the early stages of standardization in breast imaging. They are also behind compared to other countries in Africa as far as utilization goes. On average in Uganda they do 1-2 screening mammograms per day…this in comparison to Zambia, where they do ~25/day. One of the speakers at the conference also mentioned that there are only 4 mammography units in Uganda (and it is unclear if all of them are working). The ARU conference was full of excited and dedicated radiologists interested in furthering their expertise in breast cancer detection. They are starting to use the BIRADS lexicon and are streamlining reporting systems. It is interesting to think about how imaging algorithms will need to be modified based on the geography. Mammography is certainly appropriate for the city if the radiologists can develop adequate quality assurance and control, but ultrasound is much more accessible and the more appropriate modality for breast imaging in the “up-country”.
ITW has made ultrasound available in some of the “up-country” locations with the obstetrics program. It is our hope that with the breast imaging/biopsy project, in which we emphasize detection and evaluation of palpable breast masses, we can improve awareness of breast health and find cancer at earlier stages. The infrastructure for imaging is already in place at our clinics so with the addition of community outreach, education, and treatment navigation, we hope the program will continue to be successful.
Christina Cinelli, MD