As many as four billion people around the globe – basically two thirds of the entire population — have little or no access to simple x-ray technology. Many of them have no idea it even exists.
As a result, their life spans and productivity are dramatically impacted. Some suffer from simple health care conditions that modern medicine overcame many decades ago. In regions of the world without access to x-ray technology, conditions many of us consider mere health inconveniences can be literally life-threatening.
Recognizing the enormous impact the lack of accessible x-ray technology has on personal health, Rotarians in Rotary District 6440 (Illinois, USA) have developed an ambitious project with a simple goal: Make sure poor people around the world have access to x-ray technology starting with the rural poor in one country, Guatemala, and expanding the effort to other countries.
To achieve this goal, Rotary leaders in District 6440 have created HealthRays, an exciting new template for action in Guatemala that combines traditional hands-on volunteer strategies with multi-sector, multi-organization partnerships, including Guatemala’s Ministry of Public Health and Social Welfare, the Pan American Health Organization (PAHO), international Rotary Districts, and individual Rotary clubs. Together, these partners will buy and install 29 digital x-ray units to serve the rural poor in Guatemala.
A key factor in the project is the use of digitally-based diagnostic radiology units, which will dramatically expand the reach of health service to rural and poor Guatemalans by allowing their x-ray images to be read by physicians far from the physical location of remote x-ray clinics, via the Internet. The project is anticipated to cost $2.5 million to complete. Eventually, project organizers hope to expand their efforts to other nations around the world.
The HealthRays initiative is steadily moving forward. Digital x-ray units are being installed and public awareness is growing. But more help is needed if we are to reach our goal of 29 units installed. To learn how you can help, please visit our Donate page.
As of summer of 2016, three x-ray machines have been purchased and installed in Guatemalan cities and funding and installation plans are in place for additional units, which are expected to become operational very soon. So far, thousands of Guatemalans now have access to health services that were previously unavailable in their regions.