(Feb. 28, 2014 – Evanston, Illinois, USA) American and Guatemalan Rotary volunteers joined Guatemalan health professionals and government officials in February to mark the installation of the second of 29 planned digital x-ray units that are being distributed to clinics in Guatemala in an ambitious effort to serve needy populations in that country. The new digital x-ray unit will serve residents near El Amparo, in southwest Guatemala.
Digital x-ray services will be offered in the El Amparo area as a part of the Rotary HealthRays initiative, organized by members of Rotary clubs in the United States and Guatemala in partnership with Guatemala’s Ministry of Public Health and Social Welfare, the Radiological Society of Guatemala (RSG) and the Pan American Health Organization (PAHO). The project is being spearheaded by Rotary District 6440, which represents more than 70 Rotary clubs near Chicago, Illinois, USA.
Guatemala’s Minister of Health, Dr. Jorge Alejandro Villavicencio, formally dedicated the new x-ray unit February 25 on behalf of the Guatemalan government.
The first of the new digital x-ray units being distributed in Guatemala arrived last summer and was installed in Mixco, a community near Guatemala City. Organizers of the project announced recently that they have completed fundraising for a third unit, to be installed in the near future, and that they are now raising funds and recruiting new partners for the purchase and installation of an additional 26 x-ray units in clinics serving the poor. The units will be operated by local Guatemalans and will be connected to regional hospitals via the Internet.
Organizers of Rotary HealthRays expect the digital x-ray project to expand dramatically 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 medical clinics, via the Internet.
Rotary District 6440 estimates that its project could eventually impact more than one and a half million people in Guatemala. In addition, it will benefit Guatemala’s economy by creating new jobs at the 29 medical clinics and by potentially improving the long-term health and work productivity of Guatemalans through better access to medical care.
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.
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, which is taken for granted as a basic health tool in most industrialized nations. Guatemala, one of the world’s poorest countries, is among the countries most in need of this technology. Health care outcomes in Guatemala are among the worst in Central America. Poor, rural people living there are impacted by injuries and other maladies that could be easily cured – or at least properly diagnosed – with x-ray technology.
“We are delighted to have successfully installed our second digital x-ray station in El Amparo ,” said Pamela Kerr, past governor of Rotary District 6440 and co-chair of the committee overseeing the digital x-ray project. “What is important now is continued financial support from other Rotary districts, as well as other not-for-profit and corporate partners. We are excited about the prospects as our project begins to meaningfully impact the health of Guatemalans and benefit Guatemala’s economy.”
Rotary districts that are providing support for Rotary HealthRays include District 6600 — Northern Ohio, USA; District 7150 — Central New York, USA; and District 7610 — Northern Virginia, USA.
For more information about the digital x-ray project, please call 847-475-1283 or visit www.healthrays.info.
Rotary International is an organization of business and professional leaders united worldwide who provide humanitarian service, encourage high ethical standards in all vocations and help build goodwill and peace in the world. In more than 200 countries worldwide, approximately 1.2 million Rotarians belong to more than 34,000 Rotary clubs. To learn more, please visit www.rotary.org.