IAEA Director General Yukiya Amano concluded his three-day trip to Nigeria with an assurance that intensified cooperation between the Agency and Nigeria on cancer care and prevention will continue. During Mr. Amano´s visit - his first official trip to a Member State as Director General - he began his initiative to focus global attention on improving cancer care in developing countries.
On Tuesday, 15 December, the Director General visited the International Cancer Centre and the National Hospital in Abuja. The International Cancer Centre is a key element among Nigeria´s initiatives to improve cancer research, diagnosis, and treatment. The Centre will be working closely with the IAEA´s Programme of Action for Cancer Therapy (PACT) to advance comprehensive cancer control in Nigeria and sub-Saharan Africa and to combat the growing cancer epidemic.
At the Centre, Mr. Amano addressed officials and medical staff from both private and public hospitals across Nigeria. "Both the Nigerian public and the private sector are putting tremendous effort into cancer therapy." He said he would share his experience in Nigeria with world leaders at the World Economic Forum taking place in Davos, Switzerland in January 2010, as well as focus on cancer control at the Scientific Forum to be held in Vienna in September 2010.
Speaking with Nigerian officials at the Nuclear Technology Centre in Sheda also on 15 December, Mr. Amano expressed his high regard for the Nigerian Government´s and the Nuclear Technology Centre´s programmes for the peaceful use of nuclear technology. "You have made tremendous efforts on nuclear power, and enormous efforts to address cancer control," he said.
At the Nuclear Technology Centre, Director General Amano visited the Gamma Irradiation Facility. The IAEA has supported this facility with licensing and training. "I was very much impressed by Nigeria´s systematic efforts to use nuclear technology for peaceful purposes, including food conservation and sterilization," Mr. Amano told a group of journalists also gathered at the facility. He said the Agency would continue to support Nigeria in using nuclear technology for medical applications, emphasizing the need for human resource development and training.
"In becoming IAEA Director General, I wanted to make the Agency an organization that deals with global issues in relation to nuclear technology," he said. Mr. Amano had set out his key objective to address global issues related to nuclear technology, in a recent meeting with IAEA Member States. This includes working for nuclear non-proliferation, enhancing nuclear safety and security, assisting Member States in meeting their energy needs, responding to concerns about climate change, helping to ensure food security and clean water and improving health care through the application of nuclear techniques.
Visits to Member States like Nigeria are vital in achieving this objective. "When I began my mandate as Director General, I wanted to visit the Member States, to engage in direct dialogue and receive first-hand information from them," he said.