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Building Partnerships in Latin America and the Caribbean to Support Long Term Capacity Building for Health

Students are taught planning techniques in advanced radiotherapy as part of the Masters programme. (Photo: FALP)

Technological skills and knowledge available for cancer treatment have made rapid progress in recent years. The latest generation of radiotherapy techniques allow high-precision cancer treatment based on intensity modulation, real-time incorporation of high-resolution digital imaging as treatment guidance, use of stereotactic techniques, and protocol designs combining the complementarity and versatility of different techniques and treatments. In June 2017, the first IAEA-supported Masters course on advanced radiotherapy started in Chile, with the aim of overcoming the shortage of qualified radiation oncologists in Latin America and the Caribbean.

The official opening of the course was attended by Mr Rogelio Altuzarra, Dean of Los Andes University, H.E. Mr. Yoshinobu Hiraishi, Ambassador of Japan to Chile, Mr Saúl Pérez, Section Head, IAEA, and Mr. Marsiglia, Director of the Masters programme in FALP, together with the course participants. (Photo: FALP)

The course, attended by 13 students from 12 countries in the region, will last one year and is co-hosted by the Chilean Arturo López Pérez Foundation (FALP) and the University of Los Andes, with the support of the Chilean Commission of Nuclear Energy (CCHEN). IAEA experts have worked with the organizers in Santiago on the curriculum, which includes practical, theoretical and online courses. Graduating students will receive a Masters qualification from the University of Los Andes.

Unlike other training courses, this Masters programme provides students with a complete year of intensive training, and will help to expand the use of more advanced techniques in radiation oncology in the participants’ countries.

H.E. Mr. Yoshinobu Hiraishi, Ambassador of Japan to Chile, who attended the opening of the course, said “As the number of cancer patients is increasing in Latin American and Caribbean region, we recognize that human resource development in the field of radiation medicine is urgently needed. In this regard, Japan has largely supported capacity building activities in cancer diagnosis and treatment through the Peaceful Uses Initiative (PUI)”.

The Masters programme is designed to address issues related to the shortage of qualified human resources for cancer diagnosis and treatment in Latin America and the Caribbean. This need was identified and prioritized by the Representatives of the 22 States Party to the Regional Cooperative Agreement for the Promotion of Nuclear Science and Technology in Latin America and the Caribbean (ARCAL).

“The support of an institution such as the Chilean Arturo López Pérez Foundation (FALP), which has excellent facilities to provide high-quality treatments, and the involvement of the prestigious Los Andes University, will be key to the success of the Masters programme and to the training of the next generation of radiation oncologists in the region”, explained Saúl Pérez Pijuán, Section Head in the IAEA’s Division for Latin America and the Caribbean. In addition, said Mr Perez, “An implicit accomplishment to be highlighted is the ability to partner to achieve a regional objective; the joint work of several Chilean institutions, public and private, with the IAEA and the Government of Japan has been a key success factor for achieving this Masters programme’.

Since the IAEA began its work in human health over 50 years ago, the use of nuclear techniques in medicine and nutrition has become one of the most widespread peaceful applications of atomic energy. The IAEA assists countries through technical cooperation projects, providing expert guidance, equipment, helping develop harmonized international guidelines, and supporting capacity building and knowledge exchange. Human health continues to be a priority for the IAEA’s technical cooperation programme in Latin America and the Caribbean.

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