An audit of licensed Zimbabwean radiology equipment resources as a measure of healthcare access and equity

Maboreke, Tashinga ; Banhwa, Josephat ; Pitcher, Richard D. (2019-10-01)

CITATION: Maboreke, T.; Banhwa, J. & Pitcher, R. D. 2019. An audit of licensed Zimbabwean radiology equipment resources as a measure of healthcare access and equity. Pan African Medical Journal, 34. doi:10.11604/pamj.2019.34.60.18935

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Introduction: approximately two-thirds of the world's population has no access to diagnostic imaging. Basic radiological services should be integral to universal health coverage. The World Health Organization postulates that one basic X-ray and ultrasound unit for every 50000 people will meet 90% of global imaging needs. However, there are limited country-level data on radiological resources, and little appreciation of how such data reflect access and equity within a healthcare system. The aim of this study was a detailed analysis of licensed Zimbabwean radiological equipment resources. Methods: the equipment database of the Radiation Protection Authority of Zimbabwe was interrogated. Resources were quantified as units/million people and compared by imaging modality, geographical region and healthcare sector. Zimbabwean resources were compared with published South African and Tanzanian data. Results: public-sector access to X-ray units (11/106 people) is approximately half the WHO recommendation (20/106 people), and there exists a 5-fold disparity between the least- and best-resourced regions. Private-sector exceeds public-sector access by 16-fold. More than half Zimbabwe's radiology equipment (215/380 units, 57%) is in two cities, serving one-fifth of the population. Almost two-thirds of all units (243/380, 64%) are in the private sector, routinely accessible by approximately 10% of the population. Southern African country-level public-sector imaging resources broadly reflect national per capita healthcare expenditure. Conclusion: there exists an overall shortfall in basic radiological equipment resources in Zimbabwe, and inequitable distribution of existing resources. The national radiology equipment register can reflect access and equity in a healthcare system, while providing medium-term radiological planning data.

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