New-age X-ray scanners for South Africa’s hospitals


29 May 2014

Nine hospitals and three pathology facilities in Gauteng province will soon be armed with the Xmplar-dr full body X-ray scanner, a unique South African low-radiation X-ray machine capable of taking a full-body scan in just 13 seconds, as the government begins rolling the device out in hospitals nationally.

Speaking to journalists at the Africa Health Conference at Ghallagher Estate, north of Johannesburg on Thursday, Economic Development Minister Ebrahim Patel said the Gauteng Department of Health had placed an order for nine units, at a cost of R60-million.

“We have identified Gauteng because of the density of the population,” Patel said. “This is the urban province of South Africa, which makes more sense to introduce it immediately here.”

Xmplar-dr X-ray scanner is manufactured by South African company Lodox, in which the state-owned Independent Development Corporation (IDC) holds a 95% shareholding.

“The company [Lodox] will now roll it out on scale elsewhere. There are some of these facilities available elsewhere in the country, but not on scale. So this is the first part of the national roll-out across the health care system.”

Patel said the Xmplar-dr X-ray scanner allows medical practitioners to scan trauma patients immediately on arrival at a hospital.

“This technology is quite unique. It is a medical technology that allows for the taking of x-rays digitally. Its unique characteristics are informed by the fact that it is a very flexible unit. It can be installed inside a trauma unit of a hospital. You don’t need to put it in a specialised radiology section.”

The hospitals that are in line to receive the machine are the Natalspruit, George Mukhari, Steve Biko, Tembisa, Helen Joseph, Tambo Memorial, Sebokeng, Kalafong and Leratong hospitals.

Three pathology facilities – the Pretoria Forensic Pathology, Johannesburg Forensic Pathology and Garankuwa Forensic Pathology – will also have the scanner installed.

Patel said the IDC had so far invested R200-million in the development of the scanner, which has already been exported to 30 medical facilities in other countries.

“What’s important about it is that the IDC is prepared to back innovative ideas and technologies, and allow them to be taken to markets and be commercialised, and in that process create sustainable jobs in South Africa.”