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IAEA Supports African Countries to Develop Radiotherapy Facilities


Representatives from Senegal participate in the IAEA meeting on bankable documents. (Photo: J. O’Brien, IAEA)

Representatives from eight African countries have made important strides in preparing bankable documents that will contribute to helping them secure funding to enhance cancer treatment by establishing or expanding radiotherapy services.  The IAEA supported Burundi, the Central African Republic, the Democratic Republic of Congo, Kenya, Rwanda, Senegal, Sudan and Uganda in preparing these bankable documents — a combination of techno-economic feasibility studies and strategic funding proposals for potential donors. Once drafted by national authorities, bankable documents can be submitted to interested donors, including multilateral development banks, to raise the necessary resources to fund infrastructure, capacity building, and equipment related to cancer care. 

A series of IAEA meetings, delivered in late 2022 and early 2023, facilitated the development of these documents by providing national experts with technical assessments and advice in relevant areas under the IAEA mandate. These areas include radiation oncology, medical physics, radiation safety and radiation protection related to medical exposure.  “It is our top priority to support the countries participating in these meetings to establish, consolidate and expand radiotherapy facilities. Our experience is that bankable documents play an indispensable role when approaching donors or development banks,” said Shaukat Abdulrazak, Director of the Division for Africa in the IAEA Department of Technical Cooperation. 

Many countries in Africa have requested support under the IAEA’s Rays of Hope initiative in increasing their populations’ access to radiotherapy. Preparing for all of the components associated with new radiotherapy facilities is a complex process that encompasses many financial and technical considerations. IAEA staff were joined by official country representatives from the areas of health, finance, public works, medical physics, and radiation safety. "The meeting provided a unique opportunity, bringing key stakeholders together right from the start to ensure alignment,” said Mary Nyangasi, Head of the National Cancer Control Program at the Kenyan Ministry of Health. “We were able to make use of a wealth of resources available through the IAEA and learnt how we can harness them throughout the life cycle of a radiotherapy project.” 

During the most recent series of meetings, each country team gathered the necessary information to draft their bankable document in advance and presented their cancer control programmes during the meeting to receive feedback on potential challenges and learn from each other’s experiences. The imPACT Review missions conducted by the IAEA to assess a country’s cancer control situation can feed into this process and provide valuable insight into the current status of cancer control. 

“Cancer is becoming a serious burden among the Burundian population,” said Alexandre Niyonkuru, a Nuclear Medicine Physician at the University Teaching Hospital of Kamenge. “Following the meeting, the Burundian team continued to work with IAEA experts to finalize the bankable document. Burundi has already identified the site where the radiotherapy facility will be established, and activities related to that project are underway at the Ministry of Health. We do hope that the project will be a success for the benefit of Burundians suffering from cancer diseases but also for people in neighbouring countries.” 

The IAEA has helped more than 20 countries to gather the necessary information to draft bankable documents, which has resulted in the development of several funding proposals that have been accepted by development banks, and ultimately the establishment of life-saving radiotherapy services.  

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