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IAEA Leads Review of Ukraine's Cancer Control Programme


IAEA Radiation Safety Infrastructure Specialist meets with medical staff at Hospital Okhmatdyt in Kyiv, Ukraine, as part of an IAEA-led review of cancer facilities in the country. (Photo: A. Benedico/IAEA)

The IAEA will support Ukraine’s Ministry of Health in developing a comprehensive national cancer control programme to improve access to quality cancer care across the country. The support will come on the back of a recent IAEA-led imPACT review mission to assess the country’s cancer burden and its preparedness to respond to this major health challenge.

“Insights and findings gained through this review will help us build a roadmap to address cancer throughout Ukraine,” said Minister of Health Ulana Suprun. “The new cancer control programme could support the shift needed in our health system towards strengthening cancer services and care for all patients.”

According to the International Agency for Research on Cancer (IARC), more than 140 000 people develop the disease each year in Ukraine, with over 85 000 deaths. The most common cancers are lung cancer in men and breast cancer in women.

The country is currently implementing a reform of its national health system with an initial focus on strengthening primary health services, a step which could also improve early diagnosis and treatment of cancer cases. “The imPACT review offers detailed recommendations to the country ahead of the formulation of the programme,” said Anuncia Benedicto, Programme Officer for the IAEA’s Programme of Action for Cancer Therapy (PACT), who coordinated the mission.

The mission’s experts, nominated by the IAEA, the World Health Organization (WHO) and IARC, assessed capacities in cancer prevention, early detection, diagnosis and treatment, palliative care and cancer information. The experts visited main public and private health care facilities, medical schools in the capital Kyiv and in the city of Lviv, and met key stakeholders engaged in cancer control, including representatives from civil society organizations. In addition, dedicated experts assessed the radiation safety of health care workers and patients, and the security of radioactive sources for medical purposes.

The experts observed that cervical and breast cancer screenings could benefit from a unified protocol covering all health care facilities. They also noted that clinical protocols for diagnosis and treatment are not always up-to-date and in some cases too advanced for the resources available in the public sector. They found that access to quality diagnostic and therapeutic nuclear medicine services in the public sector needs to be improved.

Ukraine's Minister of Health Ulana Suprun, meets with imPACT experts to discuss initial findings and recommendations of the IAEA-led imPACT review. (Photo: IAEA)

The imPACT team made a number of recommendations to the Ministry in the following areas:

  • clinical protocols for early detection of breast and cervical cancers,
  • standardisation of current protocols for diagnosis and treatment for main cancer types,
  • nuclear medicine and radiotherapy services in the public sector, ,
  • alignment of educational programmes with internationally recognized curricula,
  • Institutionalising role of medical physicists and radiation technologists.

“This imPACT review reflects strong joint efforts by the Ministry of Health, the IAEA and WHO to address current gaps in cancer care and to respond to related challenges within the ongoing health system reform,” said Marthe Everard, WHO’s Country Representative. “The imPACT review recommendations will provide the Ministry of Health and its partners with an evidence base for developing a comprehensive cancer control programme. WHO will provide technical guidance to the Ministry of Health for their national cancer strategy.” The WHO Country Office supported the preparation and conduct of the mission.

Ongoing IAEA technical cooperation projects in the health sector in Ukraine aim at strengthening capabilities in the production of radiopharmaceuticals and upgrading its Secondary Standards Dosimetry Laboratory for Radiation Therapy Dosimetry.

The imPACT review to Ukraine was the 92nd conducted by the IAEA since 2005.


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