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IAEA and RCA Representatives Launch Two Publications, Highlighting the Impact of Cooperation in Health and Industry


IAEA Director General Rafael Grossi presents two new publications that measure and highlight the contributions of the IAEA and RCA to regional development. (Photo: O. Yusuf/IAEA)

Two new publications which demonstrate the impact of the Agency’s technical cooperation (TC) programme in the areas of radiotherapy and non-destructive testing (NDT) were launched by IAEA Director General Rafael Mariano Grossi on 19 April. The publications, which focus on achievements in countries that are State Parties to the Regional Cooperative Agreement for Research, Development and Training Related to Nuclear Science and Technology for Asia and the Pacific (RCA) were launched in the presence of more than 100 RCA National Representatives at their annual meeting.

“The RCA’s contributions are extremely tangible, and the Agreement provides a critical vehicle which channels the ongoing work and continuous efforts of both IAEA experts and their counterparts in national capitals across the region,” said Director General Grossi. “The RCA was launched in 1972—a different world with different circumstances and conditions—and yet, it has proven its adequacy as a framework for cooperation.”

Following the 2020 launch of an impact assessment of IAEA-supported RCA projects in crop mutation breeding—the first in the ongoing series—the two new publications focus on the success of IAEA and RCA activities in radiation therapy and in the industrial applications of NDT technologies.

In the new impact assessments, national experts and evaluators describe the instrumental role of the RCA in supporting capacity-building and the transfer of expert experience and essential equipment. With the support of the IAEA’s technical cooperation programme, RCA projects have seen the number of cancer patients in the region treated with radiotherapy technologies grow steadily—from 3,000 in 2000 to 70,000 in 2020. In the same period, over 3,000 radiation oncology departments have been established in hospitals, and 94 Radiation Oncology Societies have been set up to support the standards of those departments.

More than 100 national representatives from 22 State Parties to the Agreement attended the hybrid meeting, held from 19 to 21 April. (Photo: D. Calma/IAEA)

The IAEA has mobilized RCA stakeholders to organize training courses and other capacity building activities throughout the region. Since the RCA’s launch, the region has experienced a 232 per cent increase in its specialist workforce, which includes radiation oncologists, medical physicists, radiation technology therapists and nurses.

Non-destructive testing is often used to evaluate the quality and properties of materials—such as car components, oil pipelines and even centuries-old paintings—without causing damage. NDT is especially critical for industrial quality control, safety and reliability.

The RCA has supported launch of more than 3,600 NDT inspection centres in the region and close to 190 industry bodies, established to multiply the effect of IAEA support by organizing training at the local level and providing NDT services to both public and private sector clients.

The RCA impact assessment on NDT describes and provides examples of the technology’s growing application to assure safety, material quality and productive integrity in Asian and Pacific Island countries, leading to improved manufacturing controls and reduced production costs across several sectors, including aerospace, ship-building, railway construction, power generation and in the oil and gas industry.

The annual meeting of National Representatives also provided the opportunity to celebrate the 50th anniversary of the Regional Cooperative Agreement, and the 20th anniversary of the launch of the RCA Regional Office (RCARO) in Daejeon, Republic of Korea. (Photo: O. Yusuf/IAEA) 

In close coordination with RCA State Parties, the IAEA has supported the development of technical and human capacities in the 22 countries participating in the Agreement through more than 170 projects in fields as diverse as food production, climate resilience, nutrition and water resource management.

As part of these projects, more than 650 regional training courses and 560 meetings and workshops were organized, helping to train more than 10,000 national counterparts working in nuclear institutions and decision-making bodies in Asia and the Pacific. More than 4,500 experts and lecturers were recruited to support these and other RCA activities.

Celebrating fifty years

The annual meeting of National Representatives also provided the opportunity to celebrate the 50th anniversary of the Regional Cooperative Agreement, and the 20th anniversary of the launch of the RCA Regional Office (RCARO) in Daejeon, Republic of Korea. RCA representatives marked the occasion by sharing success stories and achievements from their own national programmes, and highlighted how the RCA has encouraged south-south cooperation in the nuclear field throughout the region.

“Many of our current and emerging development challenges are being addressed thanks to nuclear science and technology. In particular, the RCA has provided a common ground to which countries in the region can bring their experience in applying nuclear technologies, sharing knowledge to solve pressing social challenges and to improve socio-economic conditions on the ground,” Dr Le Xuan Dinh, Vice Minister of Science and Technology of Viet Nam, whose country assumed the Chairmanship of the RCA during the course of the annual meeting.  

A Ministerial-level Meeting will take place in September 2022 to explore the Agreement’s most tangible achievements in the last half-century, and to help chart its future across the next 50 years. An exhibition is planned on the margins of the 66th IAEA General Conference, to showcase a selection of RCA accomplishments.

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