Magnetic Resonance Imaging in Malawi: Contributions to Clinical Care, Medical Education and Biomedical Research
Advanced medical imaging technologies are generally unavailable in low income, tropical settings despite the reality that neurologic disorders are disproportionately common in such environments. Through a series of donations as well as extramural research funding support, an MRI facility opened in Blantyre, Malawi in July 2008. Resulting opportunities for studying common tropical disorders, such as malaria and schistosomiasis, in vivo are promising. The subsequent improvements in local patient care were expected and exceptional and include major revisions in basic care protocols that may eventually impact care protocols at facilities in the region that do not have recourse to MRI. In addition, advanced neuroimaging technology has energized the medical education system, possibly slowing the brain drain. Advanced technologies, though potentially associated with significant fiscal opportunity costs, may bring unexpected and extensive benefits to the healthcare and medical education systems involved.