Introduction of a portable ultrasound unit into the health services of the Lugufu refugee camp, Kigoma District, Tanzania

Int J Emerg Med. 2008 Dec;1(4):261-6. doi: 10.1007/s12245-008-0074-7. Epub 2008 Nov 14.


Background: Diagnostic imaging services are scarce in much of the developing world. Ultrasound is a low-cost, safe, and widely applicable imaging modality.

Aims: We delivered a portable ultrasound machine to the Lugufu refugee camp in Tanzania and conducted a course on its use in order to assess the feasibility of introducing this technology into a very low-resource setting.

Methods: We conducted an intensive 4-day ultrasound training course for health care providers at Lugufu and established an exam logbook to track the frequency of use, distribution of ultrasound applications, and gender and age distribution of patients.

Results: Between 4 October 2005 and 1 November 2007 547 separate ultrasound exams on 460 patients were recorded at Lugufu. Overall, 86% of patients studied were female. Pregnancy-related exams accounted for 24.1% of total usage. The 20- to 29-year-old age group accounted for over one third of total exams performed.

Conclusion: Ultrasound is a feasible and sustainable imaging modality in a very low-resource setting such as the Lugufu refugee camp in Tanzania.