Optimizing integrated imaging service delivery by tier in low‑resource health systems

Access to imaging diagnostics has been shown to result in accurate treatment, management, and optimal outcomes. Particularly in low-income and low-middle-income countries (LICs, LMICs), access is limited due to a lack of adequate resources. To achieve Sustainable Development Goal (SDG) 3, access to imaging services is critical at every tier of the health system. Optimizing imaging services in low-resource settings is best accomplished by prescriptive, integrated,
and coordinated tiered service delivery that takes contextual factors into consideration. To our knowledge, this is the first recommendation for optimized, specific imaging care delivery by tier. A model for tier-based essential imaging services informs and guides policymakers as they set priorities and make budgetary decisions. In this paper, we recommend a framework for tiered imaging services essential to reduce the global burden of disease and attain universal health coverage (UHC). A lack of access to basic imaging services, even at the lowest tier of the health system, can no longer be justified by cost. Worldwide, affordable modalities of modern ultrasound and X-ray are becoming an accessible mainstay for the investigation of common conditions such as pregnancy, pneumonia, and fractures, and are safely performed and interpreted by qualified professionals. Finally, given the vast gap in access to imaging resources between LMICs and high-income countries (HICs), a scale-up of tiered imaging services in low-resource settings has the potential to reduce health disparities between, and within countries. As the access to appropriately integrated imaging services improves, UHC may be achieved.


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