Towards equity : a retrospective analysis of public sector radiological resources and utilization patterns in the metropolitan and rural areas of the Western Cape Province of South Africa in 2017
CITATION: Van Zyl, B. C., et al. 2021. Towards equity : a retrospective analysis of public sector radiological resources and utilization patterns in the metropolitan and rural areas of the Western Cape Province of South Africa in 2017. BMC Health Services Research, 21:991, doi:10.1186/s12913-021-06997-x.
The original publication is available at https://bmchealthservres.biomedcentral.com
Publication of this article was funded by the Stellenbosch University Open Access Fund
Background: The reduction of inequality is a key United Nations 2030 Sustainable Development Goal (WHO, Human Resources for Health: foundation for Universal Health Coverage and the post-2015 development agenda, 2014; Transforming our world: the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development .:. Sustainable Development Knowledge Platform, 2020). Despite marked disparities in radiological services globally, particularly between metropolitan and rural populations in low- and middle-income countries, there has been little work on imaging resources and utilization patterns in any setting (Transforming our world: the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development .:. Sustainable Development Knowledge Platform, 2020; WHO, Local Production and Technology Transfer to Increase Access to Medical Devices, 2019; European Society of Radiology (ESR), Insights Imaging 6:573-7, 2015; Maboreke et al., An audit of licensed Zimbabwean radiology equipment resources as a measure of healthcare access and equity, 2020; Kabongo et al., Pan Afr Med J 22, 2015; Skedgel et al., Med Decis Making 35:94-105, 2015; Mollura et al., J Am Coll Radiol 913-9, 2014; Culp et al., J Am Coll Radiol 12:475-80, 2015; Mbewe et al., An audit of licenced Zambian diagnostic imaging equipment and personnel, 2020). To achieve equity, a better understanding of the integral components of the so called “imaging enterprise” is important. The aim was to analyse a provincial radiological service in a middle-income country. Methods: An institutional review board-approved retrospective audit of radiological data for the public healthcare sector of the Western Cape Province of South Africa for 2017, utilizing provincial databases. We conducted population-based analyses of imaging equipment, personnel, and service utilization data for the whole province, the metropolitan and the rural areas. Results: Metropolitan population density exceeds rural by a factor of ninety (1682 vs 19 people/km²). Rural imaging facilities by population are double the metropolitan (20 vs 11/10⁶ people). Metropolitan imaging personnel by population (112 vs 53/10⁶ people) and equipment unit (1.7 vs 0.7/unit) are more than double the rural. Overall population-based utilization of imaging services was 30% higher in the metropole (289 vs 214 studies/10³ people), with mammography (24 vs 5 studies/10³ woman > 40 years) and CT (21 vs 6/10³ people) recording the highest, and plain radiography (203 vs 171/10³ people) the lowest differences. Conclusion: Despite attempts to achieve imaging equity through the provision of increased facilities/million people in the rural areas, differential utilization patterns persist. The achievement of equity must be seen as a process involving incremental improvements and iterative analyses ne progress towards the goal.