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Honduras Inaugurates its First Public Brachytherapy Service with the Support of the Technical Cooperation Programme of the IAEA

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Undersecretary of State of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and International Cooperation, H.E. María del Carmen Nasser, inaugurates the newly installed brachytherapy unit. (Photo: SRECI)

Honduras can now provide treatment for many types of cancer to its citizens. With the assistance of a national IAEA technical cooperation project[1], the very first public brachytherapy service in the country has been set up at the national Hospital San Felipe in Tegucigalpa. The unit was inaugurated on 29 September 2017, during a ceremony attended by representatives from all the institutions that were involved in the design and implementation of the project, including the public sector, NGOs and academia.  

Brachytherapy is a form of radiation therapy where a radioactive source is placed close to the tumour, either directly adjacent to it or inside the tumour itself. This technology is used for more effective radiation treatment of cervical, prostate, breast and skin cancer, among others. The new brachytherapy service is especially important for the Honduran population, as cervical cancer, followed by breast cancer in women and prostate cancer in men, is the most common cancer in the country[2].

An IAEA expert demonstrates an aspect of the operation of the equipment. (Photo: SRECI)

 “There were many actors involved in the construction of this unit but we would like to recognize the valuable support provided by the International Atomic Energy Agency,” said the Undersecretary of State of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and International Cooperation, H.E. María del Carmen Nasser. She added “All this work was done with the objective of providing solutions and a better quality of life to the Honduran population. We are sure that this equipment will provide the opportunity to apply new nuclear technologies for adequate treatment to cancer patients of Hospital San Felipe.”

Hospital personnel including radiation oncologists, medical physicists, nurses and technologists, also received comprehensive training in the proper use of brachytherapy to ensure the safe and effective treatment of patients with the new equipment. It is expected that 1000 patients per year will benefit from the new equipment, representing a substantial increase in the number of cancer patients treated, and building the capacity of hospital personnel.

The brachytherapy service's inauguration is in line with Agency recommendations provided by an imPACT review mission of Honduras' national cancer services conducted in June 2016, on request from the Ministry of Health. The assessment recommended the country strengthen its cancer control efforts to meet the growing demand from cancer patients for treatment and services.

The newly inaugurated brachytherapy unit will be the first public service of this type in the country, located in Hospital San Felipe in Tegucigalpa. (Photo: SRECI)

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[1] HON6004 “Establishing a High Dose Rate Brachytherapy Unit for Cancer Treatment”

[2] GLOBOCAN Fact sheet for Honduras - http://globocan.iarc.fr/Pages/fact_sheets_population.aspx?country=340

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