Bridging Healthcare Divides: Volunteering MRI Scanning Expertise in Mongolia

Earlier this year, Haider Ali, a radiologist and member of the Manchester community of Dawoodi Bohras, travelled to Mongolia to participate in a visit organised by RAD-AID to exchange knowledge on MRI scanning.

Radiology – the use of imaging techniques such as X-rays, MRI scans, and ultrasounds to diagnose and treat diseases and injuries inside the human body – provides invaluable information about a patient’s condition without the need for invasive procedures.  It plays a crucial role in early diagnosis and monitoring disease progression, ultimately improving patient care and outcomes.

Unfortunately, many parts of the world lack adequate access to radiology services, which can have significant and wide-ranging consequences for patients.

RAD-AID – or Radiology Alliance for Health and Development – is a non-profit organization dedicated to improving access to medical imaging and radiology services in low- and middle-income countries around the world.  Its mission is to provide education, equipment, and support to healthcare facilities and professionals, particularly in the field of medical imaging and radiology.

Haider’s trip was supported by the Overseas Placement Fund of the College of Radiographers, which finances radiography placements in developing countries.

In recent years, Mongolia has received a donation of CT and MRI scanners from South Korea, but staff have been waiting for training on MRI scans and specifically cardiac scans.  Having seen an advert for the opportunity on the RAD-AID website, Haider volunteered his time and, in late July, found himself on his way to Mongolia for a two-week trip to share his experience at the Intermed Hospital in the capital city of Ulaanbaatar, which has a population of 1.4 million.

“The first thing was to help”, said Haider. “I’ve been very privileged to have trained over here in this country with very good people, so I just wanted to give that back.”

Mongolia’s rural and remote areas face significant challenges in accessing quality healthcare services, including radiology.  RAD-AID’s work in the country has focused on bridging the gap between urban and rural areas.

Haider, who trained in Pakistan before moving to the UK, was able to share his knowledge.  “The guys in Mongolia have not had any formal training or education,” he said, “but they’re very eager to learn.”

Reflecting on his visit to Mongolia with RAD-AID, Haider said, “I hoped it would be a perfect opportunity for myself to learn, and to be able to share my knowledge, and it certainly was.”

But an important part of the RAD-AID programme is an equal exchange between the two nations, and there was plenty for Haider to take away too.  “It’s important to learn how, in underdeveloped countries, where equipment and logistics can be such a big problem, they’re still able to provide good clinical imaging facilities.  Mongolia is a very good example of this.  The hospital I visited was very up to speed, and their healthcare system was very good.”

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