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New Chinese vehicle brings MR to remote regions

by Thomas Dworetzky , Contributing Reporter
There's a new health care vehicle that will bring lifesaving MR technology to people in the remote areas of the Inner Mongolia Autonomous Region.

The three-axle truck, the Chiying A30, was developed and produced by XBO Medical Systems.

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The company is located in Baotou, the biggest industrial city in the region.

The truck is the first MR mobile vehicle made in China, General Manager Wang Yongzhong told China Daily.

It was unveiled at the 77th China International Medical Equipment (Spring) Expo Shanghai exhibition in May, according to a company statement.

Developing portable MR is critical because in 2016 local government estimates put at about 560,000 the number of extremely poor people in the distant rural parts of the region.

The goal of the latest health care push in the area is to ensure that by 2020 at least 90 percent of the population can get such advanced medical care.

"Mobile medical devices will be able to help us reach the goal," Wang said.

The new vehicle is able to do more than bring MR imaging to remote areas – it can also transport the sick and injured to hospitals and be used to provide limited medical treatment on location.

According to Wang the MR machine is a smaller, portable version of the larger hospital-based ones. This is partly due, the company site stated, to a magnet that is “ultra-small.”

It also includes “Internet transmission, satellite communications and other technologies,” which permit doctors to work with the machine in a remote “telemedicine” capacity.

Vehicle-developer XBO launched in 2010 with $74 million from its shareholder China Northern Rare Earth (Group) High-Tech Co., which has a 40 percent stake.

Rare earth, used in MR machines, is an important part of the Baotou region economy. The region is said to have about 43.5 million metric tons of rare earth – roughly 80 percent of China's total reserves and 30 percent of the world's reserves.

The Chinese push to develop portable MR is part of a larger worldwide trend.

In 2015, for example, researchers at Los Alamos National Laboratory – part of the DOE that its present secretary, Rick Perry, once vowed to abolish – reported “developing an ultra-low-field Magnetic Resonance Imaging (MRI) system that could be low-power and lightweight enough for forward deployment on the battlefield and to field hospitals in the world's poorest regions,” according to a laboratory statement.

"Standard MR machines just can't go everywhere," Michelle Espy, the Battlefield MR project leader said at that time. "Soldiers wounded in battle usually have to be flown to a large hospital, and people in emerging nations just don't have access to MR at all. We've been in contact with doctors who routinely work in the Third World and report that MR would be extremely valuable in treating pediatric encephalopathy, and other serious diseases in children."

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