News / Africa

Africa Seeks to Minimize Risks of Nuclear Medicine

DOUALA, Cameroon — A few years ago nuclear medicine was too expensive for both hospitals and patients in Africa.
 
Today, that’s changing.  Countries across the continent are racing to develop, promote and control the use of radiation-emitting substances in the detection and treatment of disease. 
 
Angola is fleshing out plans to set up a nuclear medicine center as the number of cancer patients continues to grow. Sudan, Ghana and Cameroon already have such centers.
 
South Africa is a leader in the field, thanks to research conducted by its Nuclear Energy Corporation. It’s currently adapting apartheid-era nuclear technology, created for weaponry, to be used for medical purposes, such as imaging applications which look into the human body.
 
But experts warn there are still risks to be considered.
 
Professor Sietske Rubow, a nuclear medicine specialist at the University of Stellenbosch in South Africa, said nuclear medicine comes with its own set of problems, including possible damage to the skin and eyes and long-term harm to the environment.
 
"It’s lovely that we now have radiopharmacy and nuclear medicine in Africa, " she said.  "But we must make sure that the people who handle the radioactivity are not exposed and patients must get exactly the right dose.  Products and radiopharmaceuticals that we work with must meet all the requirements for medicine. So we have special containers and special areas in which we work. We must be very careful."
 
Professor Rubow issued the warning at a radiopharmacy conference in the Cameroonian capital, Yaoundé, in July.  It brought together experts in nuclear medicine and radiopharmacology from 30 African countries affiliated with the International Atomic Energy Agency, IAEA, the global nuclear energy watchdog. The IAEA has been supporting the expansion of medical technologies on the continent.
 
The talks covered practical ways of reducing the risks of nuclear medicine in hospitals and the environment. Participant also discussed the appropriate design and upgrading of facilities.
 
The number of nuclear medicine institutes in Africa is a tiny fraction of those in the U.S., which amounts to about 15 for every million people. 
 
But the IAEA warns that institutions dealing with nuclear medicine often lack sufficient safety regulations and qualified experts and support staff.  
 
As a result, it says it promotes the safe and effective use of radiation therapy by helping to provide machines for hospital use and professional training and guidance on how to control radioactive materials.
 
Rene Kamgeng, an official with the National Agency for Radio-Protection in Cameroon, said although the challenges are huge, African countries are determined to address them. 
 
"The stakes," he said, "are about seeking ways to reinforce capacities with regards to radiopharmaceutical products containing radioactive substances: how to prepare them, how to ensure compliance with quality standards, how to ensure protection, how to manage the products and to ensure mastery of the techniques of usage."
 
The first African conference on nuclear medicine was held in Sudan in 2008. It urged African governments to support nuclear medicine as a basic part of national programs to fight cancer, cardiac diseases and other metabolic disorders. Since then the IAEA has been sponsoring workshops to strengthen safeguards across the continent.

Listen to report on nuclear medicine by Divine Ntaryike
Listen to report on nuclear medicine by Divine Ntaryikei
|| 0:00:00
...
 
🔇
X

You May Like

Mood Tense Ahead of Scotland Independence Vote

As race to persuade undecided voters continues, No voters say they believe life in Scotland will slowly improve and do not want to take a risk by endorsing independence More

South Africa’s 'Open Mosque' Admits Everyone, Including Critics

Open Mosque founder plans to welcome gay worshipers and allow women to lead prayers More

Ukrainian Activist in Despair About Future of Her Country

IrIna Dovgan, accused of being a spy and tortured by pro-Russian separatists, is appealing to UN Human Rights Council to support her country More

This forum has been closed.
Comments
     
There are no comments in this forum. Be first and add one

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
A Dinosaur Fit for Land and Wateri
X
September 17, 2014 8:44 PM
Residents and tourists in Washington D.C. can now examine a life-size replica of an unusual dinosaur that lived almost a hundred million years ago in northern Africa. Scientists say studying the behemoth named Spinosaurus helps them better understand how some prehistoric animals adapted to life on land and in water. The Spinosaurus replica is on display at the National Geographic museum. VOA’s George Putic has more.
Video

Video A Dinosaur Fit for Land and Water

Residents and tourists in Washington D.C. can now examine a life-size replica of an unusual dinosaur that lived almost a hundred million years ago in northern Africa. Scientists say studying the behemoth named Spinosaurus helps them better understand how some prehistoric animals adapted to life on land and in water. The Spinosaurus replica is on display at the National Geographic museum. VOA’s George Putic has more.
Video

Video Iraqi Kurdistan Church Helps Christian Children Cope find shelter in churches in the Kurdish capital, Irbil

In the past six weeks, tens of thousands of Iraqi Christians have been forced to flee their homes by Islamic State militants and find shelter in churches in the Kurdish capital, Irbil. Despite U.S. airstrikes in the region, the prospect of people returning home is still very low and concerns are starting to grow over the impact this is having on the displaced youth. Sebastian Meyer reports from Irbil on how one church is coping.
Video

Video NASA Picks Boeing, SpaceX to Carry Astronauts Into Space

The U.S. space agency, NASA, has chosen Boeing and SpaceX companies to build the next generation of spacecraft that will carry U.S. astronauts to the International Space Station by the year 2017. The deal with private industry enables NASA to end its dependence on Russia to send space crews into low Earth orbit and back. Zlatica Hoke has more.
Video

Video Future of Ukrainian Former President's Estate Uncertain

More than six months after Ukraine's former President Viktor Yanukovych fled revolution to Russia, authorities have yet to gain control of his palatial estate. Protesters occupy the grounds and opened it to tourists but they are also refusing to turn it over to the state. VOA's Daniel Schearf reports from Mezhigirya, just north of Kyiv.
Video

Video China Muslims Work to Change Perceptions After Knife Attacks

China says its has sentenced three men to death and one woman to life in prison for a deadly knife attack in March that left more than 30 dead and 140 injured. Beijing says Muslim militants from China's restive western region of Xinjiang carried out the attacks. Now, more than six months after the incident, residents in the city are still coping with the aftermath. VOA's Bill Ide has more from Kunming.
Video

Video Enviropreneur Seeks to Save the Environment, Empower the Community

Lorna Rutto, a former banker, is now an ‘enviropreneur’ - turning plastic waste into furniture and fences discusses the challenges she faces in Africa with raw materials and the environment.
Video

Video West Trades Accusations Over Ransoms

As world leaders try to forge a common response to the threat posed by Islamic State militants in Iraq and Syria, there is simmering tension over differing policies on paying ransoms. In the past month, the jihadist group has beheaded two Americans and one Briton. Both countries refuse to pay ransom money. As Henry Ridgwell reports for VOA from London, there is uncertainty in the approach of some other European nations.
Video

Video Scotland Independence Bid Stokes Global Interest

The people of Scotland are preparing to vote on whether to become independent and break away from the rest of Britain, in a referendum being watched carefully in many other countries. Some see it as a risky experiment; while others hope a successful vote for independence might energize their own separatist demands. Foreign immigrants to Scotland have a front row seat for the vote. VOA’s Henry Ridgwell spoke to some of them in Edinburgh.


Carnage and mayhem are part of daily life in northern Nigeria, the result of a terror campaign by the Islamist group Boko Haram. Fears are growing that Nigeria’s government may not know how to counter it, and may be making things worse. More

AppleAndroid