Last week at the 75th World Health Assembly, country representatives assembled to discuss a variety of health topics, including future pandemic preparedness and supporting conflicting zones. However, diagnostics remained largely excluded from the conversation. Read below for an analysis from Dr. Evan Lee, MD, MBA, a Geneva Representative for RAD-AID International.

How much buzz was there around diagnostics and imaging at 75th World Health Assembly this week?

Over the course of a rich, multi-faceted career, working in both primary healthcare and in global health, where I have worked to address challenges ranging from malaria to MDR-TB to NCDs, and on over-arching challenges including insecticide-treated bednets, diagnostics, and access to drugs, I now have the privilege of working with RAD-AID International as their Geneva representative.

I used my nascent skills in R and Twitter scraping to undertake this analysis of the Twitter feed from WHA75, to support the advocacy-related work of the Lancet Commission on Diagnostics to raise awareness of the importance of ensuring access to diagnostics and imaging across all countries.

I used “R” to search tweets with terms “#WHA75 AND diagnostics”, as well as “#WHA75 AND imaging” and “#WHA75 AND radiology”.  Retweets were excluded.

Results – Number of Tweets with #WHA75 mentioning diagnostics, imaging, and radiology (as of 27 May 2022):

I then generated a wordcloud (n.b. this was very much “learning by doing”), to take a look at the themes around “diagnostics”.

My impression, based on these findings – noting that the relative sizes in this word cloud are proportional to word frequency, are:

Imaging and radiology are not part of the conversation at WHA75

-For diagnostics, access is a concern but the bulk of the dialogue seems to be around “surveillance”, and epidemics/pandemics.

-And diagnostics are less seen in the context of ‘essential’ or ‘equitable’, and note that  terms like ‘health system’, or ‘healthcare delivery’, did NOT figure at all among the top 30 terms.

All this speaks to the need for much more advocacy around imaging, and for both imaging and diagnostics, in terms of being an essential part of health systems, rather than merely (in the case of diagnostics) a response to epidemics and pandemics, or only for disease surveillance.

I hope this will be of service to the groups who are working in diagnostics and imaging, and to the communities who need these tools to have access to better quality healthcare.

Evan Lee, MD, MBA

Twitter: @elee71

LinkedIn: https://www.linkedin.com/in/evan-m-lee/

Geneva Respresentative,

RAD-AID International