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UPDATE: From Cancer Care to Fruit Flies: IAEA Director General Looks at the IAEA's Work in Paraguay


IAEA Director General Yukiya Amano and President Horacio Cartes of Paraguay in Asunción, Paraguay, 22 June 2016. (Photo: C. Brady/IAEA)

Cancer care, food security and environmental radiation monitoring were among the subjects of discussion between IAEA Director General Yukiya Amano and President Horacio Cartes of Paraguay in Asunción today.

Mr Amano pledged continued Agency assistance to Paraguay as it continues to strengthen its nuclear safety infrastructure, including its newly established Radiological and Nuclear Regulatory Authority, and encouraged the country to participate in education and training opportunities in Latin America. "The IAEA will work closely with Paraguay to further build the capacity of this important institution," he said.

The IAEA's technical cooperation programme in Paraguay covers a broad range of activities, from sterilizing fruit flies to fighting cancer, Mr Amano told students at the National University of Asunción on Monday.

He said membership of the 168-nation IAEA was growing steadily, with many developing countries interested in the important contribution that nuclear science and technology can make to improving the health and prosperity of their people and to tackling the many challenges that face humankind today.

Those challenges include generating enough energy, tackling climate change, producing enough food to provide for a growing world population, and making the benefits of modern health care available to everyone. "The IAEA is active in all of these areas," the IAEA Director General said. "The impact of our work in the peaceful uses of nuclear science and technology is significant."

Over the years, the IAEA has helped Paraguay with cancer treatment and nuclear medicine by providing equipment and arranging training for physicians, technicians, pharmacists and physicists. 

In 2011, an international expert team put together by the IAEA conducted a thorough review of cancer treatment in Paraguay, which contributed to the development of the country's national cancer control plan and radiation medicine development plan. A follow up mission is planned for this year.

Paraguay is actively participating in an IAEA regional fruit fly project in Latin America that started this year. This involves using radiation to sterilize male flies, helping to reduce or even eradicate the fruit fly population, which causes serious damage to crops.

Paraguay is also involved in another important regional project aimed at tackling the New World Screwworm, a parasite that affects both animals and humans and is unique to Central and South America.

During the last ten years, more than 80 scientists from Paraguay have participated in IAEA fellowships and scientific visits in areas such as human health - especially cancer control - the environment and food safety, priorities set by Paraguay.

"Our work together is bringing real benefits to people in Paraguay, to the region, and beyond," Mr Amano said today at the Ministry of Foreign Affairs. "I look forward to strengthening and deepening that cooperation in future."

Mr Amano also visited the National University of Asunción, the Aregua Cancer Hospital and the Children's Cancer Hospital at San Lorenzo on Monday. 

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