Looking for a way to “give back” expertise and experience to the people of her native Brazil and other countries led Dr. Ines Boechat, Professor of Radiology and Pediatrics and Chief of Pediatric Imaging at DGSOM, to work on the creation of the World Federation of Pediatric Imaging in 2011. The organization brought together the efforts of the North American, European, Asian-Oceanic, and Latin American Societies of Pediatric Radiology, and eventually Africa as well. Dr. Boechat was astonished by the knock-on effect of bringing together colleagues from around the world:
Recognizing I formed part of a “brain drain” after leaving Brazil, which had educated and trained me, I always felt it was necessary to give back. While in Brazil, I saw health access disparities that needed to be addressed, and over the years recognized similar problems in different parts of the world. At the same time, it was clear that better communication and collaboration between pediatric radiologists in high resource countries was also an issue. During an international symposium in Pediatric Imaging in Rio de Janeiro in 2009, I invited my colleagues to work together towards this goal, and the idea of a World Federation of Pediatric Imaging was launched. The existing pediatric radiology societies from around the world got together, and then saw the big missing piece: Africa. So the next step was the creation of the African Society of Pediatric Imaging, plus other national societies in South Africa and Nigeria. It was the beginning of a cascade of results that have come about because of global, collegial collaboration.
Our goals are to improve communication by speaking with one voice to organizations like the WHO; we also work in peer-to-peer education in advanced pediatric radiology, undertake outreach, and advocate for safety in radiology. In this regard, the website, WFPIweb.org, is the instrument for communication and resource-sharing. The overwhelming international cooperation in response to our initial mass emailing asking for trained colleagues to read imaging studies was unbelievable! Now we have more than 50 radiologists from around the world engaging in tele-radiology to assist their counterparts across the globe.
Thus, there was a natural fit between our work and that of the UCLA Center for World Health. When UCLA colleagues asked me to travel to Maputo, Mozambique – another former Portuguese colony – in order to help train doctors to better interpret imaging studies, it made sense for me to go. Soon after arriving, I was struck by the physical and professional distance between the radiology and pediatric departments. Building close relationships between them would not only benefit each department, but most of all, allow them to take better care of their young patients. I also saw that, by drawing on the resources of Portuguese-speaking radiologists in Brazil, we could all collaborate to strengthen skills. In fact, Brazilian residents currently visiting UCLA are now helping to translate our module on radiology safety into Portuguese to be used via website by colleagues in Maputo and elsewhere. By bringing people together, we are leveraging our resources.
As Dr. Boechat sees her individual efforts magnified through collaboration, she continues to look for opportunities to integrate colleagues from around the world in order to improve pediatric radiology.
Dr. Boechat identifies success as: “Building productive relationships between colleagues, between departments, between countries and continents, for the benefit of the children.”
Ongoing challenge: “Clearly identify the needs of different regions of the world. And finding resources to keep these initiatives going is a major challenge.”