The International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) has signed an agreement with an 11-member consortium of universities and scientific institutions in Japan under its Rays of Hope initiative, to strengthen the nuclear medicine workforce in Asia and the Pacific.
The arrangement, which builds on the achievements of a previous three-year partnership between the IAEA and the consortium, aims at harnessing a range of technical expertise to provide more training opportunities and share research outcomes, to help hospitals improve the diagnosis and treatment of cancer, particularly in developing countries.
The IAEA’s Rays of Hope initiative was launched in 2022 to support countries to establish or scale up safe, secure and effective radiation medicine capabilities, to bridge a major shortfall in equipment and highly skilled personnel in many developing countries. By focusing on countries without radiotherapy or with inequitable access, Rays of Hope prioritizes a limited number of high-impact, cost-effective and sustainable interventions in line with national needs and commitment.
“This arrangement builds on a partnership that has benefited 25 Member States in the region over the past few years. The new Practical Arrangements have huge potential to improve cancer services by investing time and resources in a targeted manner through Rays of Hope,” said Hua Liu, IAEA Deputy Director General and Head of the Department of Technical Cooperation, at the signing ceremony.
Working together, the IAEA and the Japanese consortium have already trained more than 175 medical professionals in areas such as cardiac imaging, paediatric nuclear medicine, and neurology and psychiatry, having held four training courses in 2019, and three scientific visits on neurology, hybrid imaging and quality assurance of equipment for least-developed countries.
The new arrangement, signed last week, will focus on capacity building related to clinical applications of nuclear medicine, and the exchange of data and information. All consortium members are exploring the opportunity to host at least one scientific visit per year.
The signatories agreed to cooperate on training medical professionals in the various specializations of nuclear medicine, and to share knowledge and best practices with a wider network of nuclear medicine facilities, with the aim of accelerating the establishment and expansion of cancer care facilities.