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IAEA and Senegal to Strengthen Cooperation in Cancer Care and Pandemic Response

Rafael Grossi, Macky Sall

IAEA Director Rafael Mariano Grossi and President Macky Sall of Senegal discussed ways to further strengthen cooperation. (Photo: M. Klingenboeck/IAEA)

Senegal is strengthening its ability to respond to pandemics and building its capacity to fight cancer with IAEA support, Director General Rafael Mariano Grossi said during his visit to Dakar yesterday. In his meeting with President Macky Sall, Minister of Foreign Affairs and Senegalese Abroad Aïssata Tall Sall, and Minister of Higher Education, Research and Innovation Cheikh Oumar Anne, he discussed increased cooperation under the Zoonotic Disease Integrated Action (ZODIAC) initiative, which seeks to help countries respond to future pandemics, and Rays of Hope, an upcoming initiative to increase access to cancer care in Africa.

“Senegal has shown time and time again that it values the benefits nuclear science, and its applications can bring to improving people’s health and livelihoods,” Mr Grossi told President Sall. “The IAEA will continue to offer its support to Senegal, and we look forward to working together closely.”

Senegal has been an IAEA Member State since 1960 and works closely with the IAEA on issues ranging from healthcare to energy development and agriculture. Since May 2020, the IAEA has provided Senegal with training and testing equipment using real time reverse transcription–polymerase chain reaction (real time RT–PCR) to help combat the COVID-19 pandemic.

At his meeting with Amadou Alpha Sall, Director of the Institut Pasteur de Dakar (IPD), Mr Grossi discussed ways to enhance Senegal’s laboratories to detect and monitor zoonotic diseases and signed an agreement to strengthen Senegal’s cooperation under ZODIAC. This will elaborate on previous initiatives such as the Veterinary Diagnostic Laboratory (VETLAB) Network – a global and online platform used to help national laboratories exchange information on the monitoring, early detection, and control of animal and zoonotic diseases to enable fast response to emergencies.

COVID-19 is not the only health emergency in the country, and like in much of Africa, treatable cancers are a major cause of mortality in Senegal. Over 70 per cent of Africa’s population lacks access to radiotherapy facilities and the IAEA is working to address this.

“The continent needs more radiotherapy facilities to win the fight against cancer. Senegal is well positioned to offer support regionally by continuing to enhance its radiotherapy services to tackle and help eliminate cancer,” said Mr Grossi at the country’s main oncology centre in Dalal Diam Hospital.

Mr Grossi visits Dalal Diam hospital in Senegal as he announces the launch of a new initiative in increasing cancer care within the region. (Photo: D. Candano-Laris/IAEA)

During Mr Grossi’s meeting with the Minister of Higher Education, Research and Innovation, Cheikh Oumar Anne, the two discussed Senegal’s plans to construct a research reactor. This will not only increase education and training but can also be a source to produce medical radioisotopes to detect cancer and help in the treatment of patients.

In his meeting with Aïssata Tall Sall, Mr Grossi thanked Senegal for its commitment to help countries in the region in the safe and secure handling of radioactive sources and for holding workshops in various areas related to nuclear technology for experts from across French-speaking countries in sub-Saharan Africa.

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