Their mission is to bring life saving diagnostic imaging solutions to medically underserved populations worldwide. The organization is Radiologists without Borders and they are saving lives, one image at a time.
Tariq Gill, MD of ImageCare at Community Care Physicians is the Founder and Director of Radiologists without Borders. He founded the organization in 2008, and ever since then, they have been providing imaging equipment and services to countries around the world. The first mission was to Haiti right after the country was devastated by the earthquake in 2010.
In Haiti, Radiologists without Borders provided ultrasound equipment to the local hospital in Haiti and helped train the staff how to use it. The ultrasound was donated by Columbia Memorial Hospital. According to Dr. Gill, the group ran into obstacles in Haiti as crime was rampant.
"Some of our equipment actually got stolen," said Gill. "It just got to a point where it was no longer a safe environment for our volunteers."
Due to safety concerns, they were severely limited in the amount of medical services they were able to provide the rest of their time in Haiti. But the change in environment didn't dampen their spirits or stop them from turning their medical mission into a humanitarian mission instead. They were able to collaborate with the Binghamton Mets, a Minor League Baseball team, and gave out over 500 pairs of shoes to Haitian school children.
Shortly after the team returned from Haiti, Dr. Gill got to work on his next mission in Tanzania. He traveled to the Muhimbili University of Health and Allied Services (MUHAS) in the city of Dar es Salaam, Tanzania. His first trip to Tanzania was more of a fact finding mission to find out what the immediate needs of the community were and to start organizing a plan to get equipment and training to the people of Tanzania. Within a year of his first trip to Tanzania, Dr. Gill and Radiologists without Borders were able to establish the first ever breast screening program in the country!
Dr. Gill was not satisfied just to establish the program in Tanzania. Through his organization he has gone back every year to continue to strengthen the program and provide more equipment and training. In fact, Radiologists without Borders recently returned from their sixth mission in Tanzania.
"Originally, the focus was on getting them [set up with] equipment," explained Gill. "Now the focus is more on teaching."
Two mammography machines were donated by Sywest Medical to be used at MUHAS. Much of the radiology equipment they receive is donated by various hospitals and medical equipment suppliers such as Sywest Medical. St. Mary's hospital in Amsterdam has donated a C-Arm; Alliance Imaging provided the first MRI at a public hospital in Honduras; Merrimack Valley Health Services in Massachusetts donated a Mobile MRI; and Hologic corporation, a developer, manufacturer, and supplier of medical imaging systems, has donated numerous mammography machines as well.
The organization depends on the donations of medical equipment in order to be able to provide the services they do around the world; but the equipment must be of the highest quality. If someone tries to donate equipment that would not meet medical standards here in the US, Dr. Gill will graciously decline the donation.
"The equipment has to meet the respect test," states Dr. Gill.
Not only does Radiologists without Borders depend on the donations of medical equipment, they also depend on the collaboration of other not for profit groups, like Love Truth Care Ministries (LTCM) out of Arkansas. LTCM has been helping the poor of Honduras since the late 1990's and are well established in the country, including at Hospital Escuela. Through their collaboration with LTCM, Radiologists without Borders was able to deliver a CT Scanner, an ultrasound machine, a mammography machine, textbooks and other equipment to the Hospital Escuela. They also delivered the first MRI to any public hospital in Honduras, and set up the first ever breast screening program in Honduras, just as they had in Tanzania.
Radiologists without Borders has collaborated with a number of other organizations including RAD-AID International, World Health Imaging: Telemedicine, and Informatics Alliance(WHITIA), Doc to Dock, and Humanity First. One of the things these organizations help with is in transporting the equipment to where it needs to go once it has been donated. Shipping million dollar medical equipment across the ocean can become quite costly according to Dr. Gill. Through the collaboration with some of these other organizations, Radiologists without Borders has been able to make that happen.
Radiologists without Borders is still a small, grass roots organization that depends on donations from individuals to cover the rest of the costs with bringing people and equipment to these other countries. Right now, they are running a crowdrise campaign for an upcoming mission to Ukraine. A digital mammography machine has already been shipped to Kiev thanks to a grant made possible by Hologic. A team of volunteers will be going to Ukraine the week of October 7 through 16 to train the local radiologists and radiologic technologists on how to use the equipment. They will be implementing the first ever digital mammography screening program there. Donations through crowdrise can be made here.
Individuals can also donate through AmazonSmile, which will donate a small percentage of its profits on each purchase, by choosing Radiologists without Borders as their preferred charity. When users visit AmazonSmile for the first time, they are required to select a charitable organization before they can begin shopping. Once the select a charity, every eligible purchase they make at AmazonSmile results in a donation to that charity. People can also donate through Goodsearch and Goodshop, which are apps powered by Yahoo! that work in a similar fashion to Amazon Smile.
While collaborations with large organizations are immensely important and appreciated, Dr. Gill is also moved by the smaller donations that come from people that have less to give. It is the spirit of these smaller donations that is lifeblood of a grass roots organization like Radiologists without Borders.
"We had kids that did a lemonade stand to raise thirty dollars for us!" shared Dr. Gill, his voice lifting with excitement. "How great is that?"