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Expanded Collaboration Between the Russian Federation and the IAEA Boosts Training Opportunities for Russian Speaking Cancer Specialists

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Medical practitioners receiving training at the Association of Medical Physicists in Russia. (Photo: AMPR)

Building on the success of an extensive training programme funded by the Russian Federation over the last seven years, the Russian government last month decided on a new programme for Russian-speaking medical practitioners.

The Russian Government decided to extend support to the IAEA for training to cancer specialists up to 2023, through the Programme of Action for Cancer Therapy (PACT) under the technical cooperation programme. Russian institutions will host the trainings.

The Russian Federation’s support in recent years has enabled the IAEA, in collaboration with Russia’s State Atomic Energy Cooperation (Rosatom) and Federal Medical and Biological Agency (FMBA), to offer training for almost 500 Russian-speaking medical practitioners, strengthening capacities for cancer treatment in Europe and Central Asia. Since 2012, 25 regional training courses have been organized through the Association of Medical Physicists in Russia (AMPR) at the Federal State Budgetary Institution ‘N.N. Blokhin National Medical Research Center of Oncology’ of the country’s Ministry of Health and the State Research Centre Burnasyan Federal Medical Biophysical Centre of the Federal Medical Biological Agency.

“I am very pleased that the contributions made by Rosatom have enabled the IAEA to bridge the gap for regional training courses delivered in the Russian language and support the continued professional development of medical professionals. We are committed to further expand this collaboration to meet the growing demand for quality cancer care in Europe, Central Asia and beyond,” said Professor Boris Narkevich, President of AMPR.

“The knowledge that I gained was immediately applicable to my work and I am still using the techniques mastered,” noted Mariya Kausharova, a physicist at the Vitebsk Regional Cancer Clinic, Belarus, who participated in a course on Commissioning and Quality Assurance for Radiotherapy Treatment Planning Systems in 2018. “We had the opportunity to consistently communicate with each other, identify problems and share experiences, something which is very valuable in our profession,” she said.

The use of nuclear techniques in human health is a priority area for many IAEA Member States in Europe and Central Asia. Although significant improvements have been made in the availability of medical services in the region, the need for training in the safe and effective use of relevant nuclear technologies remains critical. To address this gap, Rosatom, FMBA, and the IAEA have outlined a long-term collaboration plan.

“Rosatom’s generous contributions, with support received from the designated host institutions in Moscow, have enabled us to provide much needed training opportunities in Russian. This has significantly helped medical practitioners in Europe and Central Asia to improve skills and knowledge in medical radiotherapy physics,” said Ana Raffo-Caiado, Director of the IAEA’s Division for Europe.

This year, Rosatom and FMBA are hosting an additional five courses to address the growing need for high quality, practically-oriented training and skills-building in the region. The extra courses, implemented through a regional IAEA technical cooperation project, cover important new advances in areas of Radiobiology for Radiation Oncologists and Medical Physicists, Practical Advanced Radiotherapy Treatment Planning, Small Field Dosimetry, Radiation Protection and safety and Accident Prevention in Radiotherapy and Dosimetry and Quality Assurance of External Beam Therapy.

Lisa Stevens, Director of PACT, highlighted the increased benefits achieved through the combination of financial support and knowledge and technical expertise provided by the Russian Federation. “Such arrangements can address the needs of Member States and help develop sustainable cooperation mechanisms to train and continuously upgrade the skills of the cancer workforce,” she said.

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