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

Video VOA Reporter Tours Devastated Peshawar School

Islamist militants wearing military uniforms and strapped with explosives attacked a military run school Tuesday in the northwestern Pakistani city of Peshawar. At least 141 people were killed in the horrific attack, most of them young students. More

Video Sudan School Becomes Target of Aerial Attacks

Dropout rate at an all-time high in South Kordofan state because many schools have been destroyed during 3-year civil war More

Tennessee Songbirds Fly Coop Long Before Tornadoes Arrive

Researchers say birds apparently alerted to danger by sounds at frequencies below range of human hearing 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.
US: Response to Sony Hack Will Be Proportionali
X
Aru Pande
December 19, 2014 1:45 AM
The White House says President Barack Obama considers the cyberattack on Sony Corp. a serious national security matter and that the U.S. will counter with an "appropriate response." VOA correspondent Aru Pande reports.
Video

Video US: Response to Sony Hack Will Be Proportional

The White House says President Barack Obama considers the cyberattack on Sony Corp. a serious national security matter and that the U.S. will counter with an "appropriate response." VOA correspondent Aru Pande reports.
Video

Video Sudan School Becomes Target of Aerial Attacks

The school dropout rate is at an all-time high in Sudan's South Kordofan state because many schools have been destroyed during the three-year civil war between the government and SPLA-N rebel forces. Adam Bailes visited Sudan's Nuba Mountains' region and reports many children are simply too scared to go to school
Video

Video Nigerians Fleeing Boko Haram Languish in Camp Near Capital

In its five-year effort to impose Islamic law in northeastern Nigeria, the Boko Haram extremist group has killed thousands of people and forced hundreds of thousands to flee. Some of those who ran for their lives now live in squalor on the edges of the capital, Abuja. Chris Stein reports for VOA.
Video

Video Putin Says Russian Economy Will Emerge Stronger

Russian President Vladimir Putin has said his country's sinking economy will not only recover but also become stronger, despite falling oil prices and Western sanctions over Ukraine. VOA's Daniel Schearf reports.
Video

Video Detained Turkish Journalists Follow Teachings of US-Based Preacher

The Turkish government’s jailing of critical journalists has sparked international condemnation and is being seen as an effort to undermine the followers of an ailing Turkish preacher based in the United States. VOA religion reporter Jerome Socolovsky has more.
Video

Video ‘Anti-Islamization’ Marches Increase Tensions In Germany

Anti-immigrant rallies in Germany have been building in recent weeks, peaking Monday night in the city of Dresden where tens of thousands of people turned out to demonstrate against what they call the ‘Islamization’ of the West. Germany has offered asylum to more Syrian refugees than any other country, and this appears to have set off the protests. Henry Ridgwell reports from London.
Video

Video Aceh Rebuilt Decade After Tsunami, But Scars Remain

On December 26, 2004 there was an earthquake in the Indian Ocean so powerful it caused the Earth’s axis to wobble a few centimeters. Onshore on the island of Sumatra, the resulting tsunami was devastating. A decade later, VOA Correspondent Steve Herman reports from Banda Aceh, Indonesia, where although there is little remaining evidence of the physical devastation, the psychological scars among survivors remain.
Video

Video Refugees Living in Kenya Long for Peace in the Home Countries

Kenya is host to numerous refugees seeking safe haven from conflict. Immigrants from Somalia face challenges in their new lives in Kenya. Ahead of International Migrants Day (December 18) Lenny Ruvaga has more for VOA News from the Kenyan capital.

All About America

AppleAndroid