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

Lesotho Faces New Round of Violence, Political Crisis

Brutal killing of military officer has sent former leaders back into S. Africa where they're watching anxiously as regional officials head in to try to restore peace More

Video US Diplomat Expects Adoption of Bosnian Massacre Anniversary Resolution

Samantha Power says there's broad consensus about killings in Bosnia's war, but Russia calls resolution 'divisive,' backs UN countermeasure More

UN Report Exposes Widespread Boko Haram Atrocities

Damning report graphically details pattern of vicious, widespread atrocities committed by Islamist militants 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.
Olympics Construction Scars Sacred Korean Mountaini
X
July 02, 2015 4:10 AM
Environmentalists in South Korea are protesting a Winter Olympics construction project to build a ski slope through a 500-year-old protected forest. Brian Padden reports that although there is strong national support for hosting the 2018 Pyeongchang Winter Olympics, there are growing public concerns over the costs and possible ecological damage at the revered mountain.
Video

Video Olympics Construction Scars Sacred Korean Mountain

Environmentalists in South Korea are protesting a Winter Olympics construction project to build a ski slope through a 500-year-old protected forest. Brian Padden reports that although there is strong national support for hosting the 2018 Pyeongchang Winter Olympics, there are growing public concerns over the costs and possible ecological damage at the revered mountain.
Video

Video Xenophobia Victims in South Africa Flee Violence, Then Return

Many Malawians fled South Africa early this year after xenophobic attacks on African immigrants. But many quickly found life was no better at home and have returned to South Africa – often illegally and without jobs, and facing the tough task of having to start over. Lameck Masina and Anita Powell file from Johannesburg.
Video

Video Family of American Marine Calls for Release From Iranian Prison

As the crowd of journalists covering the Iran talks swells, so too do the opportunities for media coverage.  Hoping to catch the attention of high-level diplomats, the family of American-Iranian marine Amir Hekmati is in Vienna, pleading for his release from an Iranian prison after nearly 4 years.  VOA’s Heather Murdock reports from Vienna.
Video

Video UK Holds Terror Drill as MPs Mull Tunisia Response

After pledging a tough response to last Friday’s terror attack in Tunisia, which came just days before the 10th anniversary of the bomb attacks on London’s transport network, British security services are shifting their focus to overseas counter-terror operations. VOA's Henry Ridgwell has more.
Video

Video Obama on Cuba: This is What Change Looks Like

President Barack Obama says the United States will soon reopen its embassy in Cuba for the first time since 1961, ending a half-century of isolation. VOA White House correspondent Luis Ramirez reports.
Video

Video Hate Groups Spread Influence Via Internet

Hate groups of various kinds are using the Internet for propaganda and recruitment, and a Jewish human rights organization that monitors these groups, the Simon Wiesenthal Center, says their influence is growing. The messages are different, but the calls to hatred or violence are similar. VOA's Mike O’Sullivan reports.
Video

Video US Silica Sand Mining Surge Worries Illinois Residents, Businesses

Increased domestic U.S. oil and gas production, thanks to advances known as “fracking,” has created a boom for other industries supporting that extraction. Demand for silica sand, used in fracking, could triple over the next five years. In the Midwest state of Illinois, people living near the mines are worried about how increased silica sand mining will affect their businesses and their health. VOA’s Kane Farabaugh has more in this first of a series of reports.
Video

Video Blind Somali Journalist Defies Odds in Mogadishu

Despite improving security in the last few years, Somalia remains one of the most dangerous countries to be a journalist – even more so for someone who cannot see. Abdulaziz Billow has the story of journalist Abdifatah Hassan Kalgacal, who has been reporting from the Somali capital for the last decade despite being blind.
Video

Video Texas Defies Same-Sex Marriage Ruling

Texas state officials have criticized the US Supreme Court decision giving same-sex couples the right to marry nationwide. The attorney general of Texas says last week's decision did not overrule constitutional "rights of religious liberty," and therefore officials performing wedding services can refuse to perform them for same-sex couples if it is against their religious beliefs. Zlatica Hoke reports on the controversy.
Video

Video Rabbi Hits Road to Heal Jewish-Muslim Relations in France

France is on high alert after last week's terrorist attack near the city Lyon, just six months after deadly Paris shootings. The attack have added new tensions to relations between French Jews and Muslims. France’s Jewish and Muslim communities also share a common heritage, though, and as far as one French rabbi is concerned, they are destined to be friends. From the Paris suburb of La Courneuve, Lisa Bryant reports about Rabbi Michel Serfaty and his friendship bus.
Video

Video Saudi Leaks Expose ‘Checkbook Diplomacy’ In Battle With Iran

Saudi Arabia’s willingness to wield its oil money on the global diplomatic stage appears to have been laid bare, after the website WikiLeaks published tens of thousands of leaked cables from Riyadh’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs. VOA's Henry Ridgwell reports.
Video

Video In Kenya, Police Said to Shoot First, Ask Questions Later

An organization that documents torture and extrajudicial killings says Kenyan police were responsible for 1,252 shooting deaths in five cities, including Nairobi, between 2009 and 2014, representing 67 percent of all gun deaths in the areas reviewed. Gabe Joselow has more from Nairobi.

VOA Blogs