At the IAEA´s annual commemoration of World Cancer Day, held at the IAEA´s headquarters in Vienna on 7 February 2011, Director General Yukiya Amano took stock of his prioritization of cancer control in developing countries during 2010, his first year as IAEA Director General. With seven of ten cancer deaths occurring today in the developing world, he noted that awareness of the growing cancer epidemic in developing countries is steadily increasing, yet much must be done to combat the disease.
Partnerships with the World Health Organization through the Joint Programme on Cancer Control, as well as other regional and international organizations, guarantee greater impact on the ground and ensure that these organizations are more effective in helping people actually affected by cancer, he said.
Developing countries lack sufficient trained medical personnel and access to radiation to be able to handle the burden of cancer cases. Thus, it is critically important to train health professionals in radiation medicine. Director General Amano noted that a new Human Health Campus website now provides specialist staff online access to IAEA learning material, which supplements the existing workshops and seminars. In Pakistan, the first programme for radiation therapists which will lead to a degree was recently started, based on the IAEA curriculum. In Mauritania and El Salvador, national oncology services were established in the past year with support provided through the IAEA´s technical cooperation programme.
An African pilot project for a Virtual University for Cancer Control began in 2010, while the IAEA´s Programme of Action for Cancer Therapy (PACT) received record funding in the past year, amounting to 7 million US dollars, pledged by IAEA Member States, the private sector and through the US Peaceful Uses Initiative.
Noting that the IAEA continues to improve global availability of the medical isotope Molybdenum-99, which is vital in the diagnosis and treatment of cancer, he assured the World Cancer Day participants that "the fight against cancer will remain a priority for the Agency throughout my term as Director General. We must do all we can to save lives and alleviate suffering."