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Tanzania IR Initiative

The Global Outreach Program’s Tanzania Interventional Radiology Program is providing a new model for global medical outreach. Tanzania’s main medical academic teaching center, the Muhimbili University of Health and Allied Sciences (MUHAS) in Dar es Salaam, now offers a master’s of science (MSc) degree in interventional radiology (IR).

“This is a big change and a big deal because it’s a departure from most global outreach programs, which are usually a one-off,” said Minja, the director of Global Outreach for the Department of Radiology & Biomedical Imaging at Yale School of Medicine (YSM). “With training, people gain skills but not credentials. The two-year MSc provides visiting faculty with a set curriculum.”

IR nurses from Muhimbili National Hospital and Yale working side by side in Tanzania.

Interventional Radiology, which developed as a subspecialty of diagnostic imaging, has become an established and independent clinical specialty in the developed world. In IR, imaging is used to perform minimally invasive procedures to diagnose and treat a wide range of conditions.
The interventional radiologist performs procedures that often allow for shorter hospital stays and lower complication rates than comparable surgical approaches.

IR is recognized as integral for diagnosis and treatment in modern medical care and adds great value to the health care system. While there are independent training pathways and certifications for IR specialization in the US, Europe, and East Asia, expansion of IR to resource-limited settings has been limited. Therefore, the vast majority of the world's population currently has no access to IR.

In 2017, we performed an IR readiness assessment of the Muhimbili hospital system and found that there is not a single interventional radiologist in Tanzania, a nation of currently almost 60 million and projected population of over 100 million by 2040. Our assessment demonstrated that most relevant imaging modalities, including ultrasound, computed tomography (CT), and fluoroscopy, are available at Muhimbili. Most importantly, there is a three-year diagnostic radiology training program with up to 25 residents per year, many of whom are interested in IR but have no access to training.

Based on the findings of our assessment, we developed a plan to address the urgent need for IR in Tanzania. We believe that an IR training program in collaboration with other U.S. academic institutions will provide the most effective solution with lasting impact on the Tanzanian health care system. Our goal is a self-sustaining IR residency program at Muhimbili, with Tanzanian IR faculty training Tanzanian residents.