A shortage of medical specialists for cancer treatment in developing countries is a driving force behind a new web-based educational course that could help change the health-care picture over time. The course - in the speciality of radiation oncology - is being spearheaded in the Asia and Pacific region through partners working with the IAEA.
Radiation oncologists are physicians skilled in the use of radiotherapy, which plays a positive role in the care and treatment of about half of all cancer patients. The incidence of cancer is rising in developing countries, and the IAEA has intensified its programmes and work with partner organizations in the field.
The course - entitled Applied Sciences of Oncology Distance Learning Course - contains 80 training modules under eight topics. The modules are specialist topics needed by trainee radiation oncologists, and these topics may not have local qualified experts to teach them. The material is expected to be complementary to the training that radiation oncologists receive in their countries through formal educational programmes.
The training course is an outcome of an IAEA Technical Cooperation Project implemented under the Regional Cooperative Agreement for Research, Development and Training Related to Nuclear Science and Technology (RCA). This is an intergovernmental agreement among 17 IAEA Member States in the Asia and the Pacific Region.
The project was implemented with the technical support of the IAEA Division of Human Health. The distance learning material was developed by the CCORE (Collaboration for Cancer Outcomes Research & Evaluation) of the South Western Sydney Area Health Service, under an IAEA contract awarded in consultation with national project coordinators appointed by participating RCA Member States. The coordinators also assisted in the pilot testing of the training material.
Three Member States of the RCA, three of AFRA (Regional Cooperative Agreement for the Africa Region) Member States and two of ARCAL (Regional Cooperative Agreement for the Latin America Region) participated in the pilot testing of the distance learning material.