The Ministry of Health on Wednesday, received the first batch of ultra-modern digital radiology X-Ray equipment from the Delft Imaging Systems, a Dutch company, for the swift screening of suspected Tuberculosis (TB) cases across the country.
The Delft technology, which is a highly effective means to improve patient diagnoses and referral of TB cases and to build local capacity, is low-cost, user-friendly, highly safe; and has integrated solutions for image capture, image storage, and could also be used for educational purposes.
Mr Maurits Verhagen, the Project Manager of Universal Delft, at the presentation ceremony, said the delivery, formed part of a 21 million Euro joint project with a 35 per cent Dutch grant and 65 per cent funding from the Government of Ghana respectively, to accelerate TB case detection across the country.
He said under the two-year project agreement his organisation being the implementers, was expected to make three deliveries in the form of the installation of a total of 52 of the ultra-modern digital X-Ray equipment, render a seven-year maintenance service thereafter, and build the capacities of more than 540 team managers, radiologists, radiographers, doctors, physician assistants and other clinicians across to effectively manage these facilities.
He said of the 52 equipment facilities to be provided, the company had so far installed 22, in various locations across the country, explaining that 30 of them were expected to be in Delft mobile One-Stop TB Clinic containers, 18 housed in rooms of health facilities, as well as four portable ones, of which two would be in vans and the remaining two on board pick-ups, to perform the same functions.
Dr Frank Bonsu, the President of the Ghana Society for the Prevention of TB, and Head of the National TB Programme, said TB was highly contagious, which made early detection and treatment very key to reducing the disease burden in the country.
However, one of the main reasons why TB-incidences had not decreased significantly was the lack of simple, effective and inexpensive ways to find new cases at an early stage, leading to a huge number of missing cases and deaths, he said.
He explained that in countries with a high TB burden, the sputum smear microscopy and GeneXpert tests were widely used for diagnoses, but given the relatively low sensitivity and high cost involved in both respectively, the digital chest X-ray had been recommended by the WHO for systematic screening to improve access and find the missing cases.
Dr Bonsu said the facilities would contribute immensely to achieving the vision of the on-going 20th Africa Union Region Conference, themed “Accelerating Implementation through Partnerships to end TB, HIV/TB, Tobacco and other related NCDs”.
He thanked the Dutch government and all the other stakeholders involved in the project and called for much public awareness of TB, as well as broader education on its prevention, early diagnoses, treatment and care, to save the needless number of deaths occurring as a result of late or unreported cases.
Dr Nicholas Adjabu, the Deputy Director of the Clinical Engineering Department of the Ghana Health Service admitted that the required capacity development for personnel to manage the facilities had been done to ensure a smooth implementation.
He said the facility was also unique in the sense that the containers and mobile ones were fully solar powered and easily transferable to endemic communities, and could also be used for out-door screening of high-risk groups for active pulmonary TB, where local diagnostic services such as the GeneXperts were non-available.