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Improving access to radiotherapy

Fighting cancer in partnership with the IAEA

Ministry of Health and Social Action of Senegal

Senegal is committed to stepping up the fight against cancer and has made this a priority. To achieve this, strategies have been adopted to strengthen the country’s capabilities in the early detection, diagnosis and treatment of cancer.

To support cancer treatment through radiotherapy, Senegal has acquired four linear accelerators since 2018, of which three are in Dakar and one is in a regional centre.

Along with this, on 30 October 2021 the first stone was laid for what will be the National Oncology Centre.

Senegal’s own efforts are being supplemented by the support it receives from partners, including the International Atomic Energy Agency, in nuclear medicine and radiotherapy.

This cooperation has already made it possible to carry out a number of projects.

These projects have helped participating organizations in Senegal to:

  • Increase the number of diagnostic, radiotherapy and nuclear medicine services to meet the needs of the population;
  • Strengthen human resource capacities through programmes for training specialists in radiotherapy and nuclear medicine, including some that take place abroad and are made possible by AFRA–IAEA technical cooperation and fellowships; and
  • Improve technical facilities to provide better diagnosis and treatment.

There are currently seven projects under way, including two national projects. Six of these concern radiotherapy, while nuclear medicine is being supported through a regional project.

On another front, the IAEA has been supporting Senegal’s response to the COVID-19 pandemic by making a major contribution to strengthening the country’s own capability to detect and diagnose the disease. This fruitful cooperation between Senegal and the IAEA has been exemplary.

In addition, the IAEA has been assisting the Ministry of Health with an assessment of the National Cancer Control Plan for 2015–2019. The assessment took place between July and December 2020 — virtually, owing to COVID-19 — and was a great success. Building on this, the IAEA has been supporting Senegal as it formulates its new cancer control strategy for 2022–2026.

The main elements of the National Cancer Control Plan for 2022–2026 currently being drafted, which reflect in large part the recommendations that grew out of the assessment, include:

  • Supporting the drafting and implementation of a new cancer plan;
  • Establishing regional hubs for radiotherapy and nuclear medicine;
  • Improving the equipment for diagnosis and treatment at existing units and introducing new techniques in radiotherapy and nuclear medicine;
  • Promoting training;
  • Upgrading the equipment and facilities in pathological anatomy and cytology laboratories in at least two regions; and
  • Drawing up staff regulations for settings where the work involves the use of radiation.

In this context, the ‘Rays of Hope’ initiative, which was launched by the IAEA Director General and is strongly supported by His Excellency the President of the Republic Macky Sall, offers an opportunity for Senegal, and all of Africa, to:

  • Expand access to radiotherapy for cancer treatment by making equipment available throughout the country;
  • Support education and advanced training for human resources to provide high-quality services;
  • Step up national and regional collaboration to improve working conditions and the quality of services and patient care;
  • Enhance radiation protection in the workplace to provide for the safety of patients and staff;
  • Improve the management and treatment of waste from equipment that uses ionizing radiation; and
  • Develop quality control systems.


February, 2022
Vol. 63-1

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