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Asha Jyoti-Bone Density

Figure 1 has partnered with RAD-AID International to showcase its efforts to improve radiology resources in developing and impoverished countries. We spoke with Bianca Nguyen, RAD-AID’s Public Health Manager, about the organization’s work in India with the Asha Jyoti mobile clinic.

How did you get involved in RAD-AID?

When I studied radiologic science at UNC Chapel Hill, I developed an interest in global health and radiology. In 2013, I began volunteering with RAD-AID, and spent seven weeks with the organization in India. Currently, I’m a Public Health Manager at RAD-AID, and am also completing my MD – MPH at Tufts Medical Center.

What is Asha Jyoti?

Asha Jyoti means “ray of hope” in Hindi, and is a mobile women’s health imaging clinic. The clinic provides screening for breast cancer, cervical cancer, and osteoporosis in a single visit. We screen women between the ages of 40-60, who either don’t have access to a hospital or don’t have time to get to one.

When did the project launch and who is involved?

In 2012, the Post Graduate Institute of Medical Education and Research (PGI) in Chandigarh and Philips Healthcare launched Asha Jyoti as a five year pilot project. PGI is one of the top teaching hospitals in Northern India, and they provide the staff that operates the clinic. Philips Healthcare provides funding for the van and the equipment, and RAD-AID provides project and educational support.

Asha Jyoti-Outside

Where does Asha Jyoti operate?

Given that it’s a mobile project, we can target a number of different areas – urban, rural, and the slums. As a result, we’ve developed relationships with community health workers and patients across Northern India, and they are spreading the word about the program. So, it’s become very community-oriented, which makes it more self-sustaining.

How does the screening process work?

We have community liaisons that educate women about the process, and help them schedule their appointments. The screening process itself only takes 20 minutes, and it takes 10 days or less for the results to come back. Women can either come back to get their results or we’ll send health workers to follow up with them at home. If a test is positive, PGI staff will take the patient to the local hospital for further treatment.

Do you know yet if the project will continue after the pilot?

We are still in the process of collecting data, and will make a decision at the end of the five year term in 2017. The two main factors to consider are if women come back for regular screening (eg. every 1-2 years), and if the project is effective from an operational standpoint.

Do you think the project has been successful? And if so, why?

Asha Jyoti has screened almost 7,000 women in the past two years, so I do think it’s been successful. When we first started, there was skepticism about the project – people thought that the van would break down or that the project would be abandoned. But, we’ve been able to build community support, and that network is spreading the word for us. A large majority of the women who come for screening hear about us by word of mouth, and I think that speaks to the power of the project.