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Canada Currently
Lags Behind Other Nations 

Despite pumping billions of dollars in recent years into medicare to buy diagnostic equipment, Canada still lags well behind many other western industrialized countries.

A report issued by The Canadian Institute for Health Information (CIHI) in January of 2005 revealed that Canada is not keeping up with the rest of the world. Canada's supply of MRI machines per capita ranks below many of the OECD countries and is even below the median ranking.

The Fraser Institute's study of available medical technology in Canada identified that Canada had 151 MRI scanners at the beginning of 2004, up from 144 in 2003. The report also revealed that the number of CT scanners had risen during the past decade to 338, up from 234.

The CIHI report revealed that in terms of MRI availability to patients, Canada ranked 19th out of 25 countries, just ahead of Luxembourg, the Czech Republic, Hungary, Greece, Poland and Mexico.

Canada had 4.6 MRI scanners per million people, while Japan and the United States had the highest number with 35.3 and 19.5 per million respectively. The median was 6.1.

The report further asserts that despite repeated promises from both federal and provincial governments to reduce patient waiting times, wait times appear to have increased nationwide. In 2003, Canadians waited on average 47 days for non-emergency MRI's up from 39 days in 2001.

The CIHI report stated that while there are more high-tech machines in the health systems than a decade ago, the supply of medical imaging professionals available to operate the technology and read the diagnostic results has remained constant.

This data prompted Dr. Normand Laberge, CEO of the Canadian Association of Radiologists (CAR) to say "governments must embark on a three-pronged strategy: purchase more machines, increase the supply of staff and use the expensive machines more efficiently. Otherwise, Canadians will increasingly turn to the private system for faster treatment."

Certain radiological procedures in Canada such as CT scans and MRI's are funded by the public health care system but the equipment is aging and waiting lists have grown so long that private companies are offering services to those willing to pay for them. The private clinics are filling a void.

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