Humanitarian Health Action

Aid in a box

WHO/Nyka Alexander

PAHO/WHO along with the International Atomic Energy Agency have donated 8 mobile X-ray machines to hospitals in Haiti. My job is to make sure the radiology departments are prepared to receive the equipment. I have been assessing the radiology rooms, the equipment, technician performance, storage of films, chemicals and radiation protection. The info I gather will also be used now and for further donations. We will be more aware of the needs and whatever we give will be in accordance with these.

When I came, didn't expect to see a radiology department at all. There are departments but there is a lack of continuing education. The technicians have learned the basics of positioning and picture taking, but have no information on storage, maintenance, and all the additional information they should have. At the same time, I was very impressed with the great pictures they take with the minimum they have. Very impressed with the quality of the positioning, the films were very good despite the fact that they have almost nothing to work with.

I met a technician yesterday at a hospital where we were installing the digital equipment. I wanted him to be there to be part of it so he knows this is his baby, this is his domain. In a way, I wanted him to be there for the "birth." His face was…I can't describe it. He looked so happy. He lost two of his kids in the earthquake but this little equipment made him so happy. You could almost feel his excitement, it was palpable. He was ready to work, he was ready to take it to the field. At the end, he wanted to know if he could ask me something. He asked me for a tent. I didn't have a tent to give him. So he asked if he could use the wooden boxes that the equipment was shipped in. Of course I said yes. So, I made one person happy. That was great, that was really great.

After the installation I want to come back for perhaps a bit longer to spend time with every technologist we met to help them learn how to manoeuvre the equipment so they know how to use it. But I will not limit myself to that. I will help them organize their room so there is no dust or particle that can affect the films. And hopefully be able to help them to maintain not only the equipment but the whole department to a higher standard. Radiology is the backbone of medicine. I want the technicians here to be proud of what they do.