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IAEA Task Force Meets to Strengthen Nuclear Medicine Quality Assurance Management in Africa

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Task Force members pose for a group photo in the Austria International Centre.  (Photo: H. Pattison/IAEA)

A task force of experts from Africa met at the Agency’s headquarters in Vienna from 3 to 7 September to review their experiences in the use of the IAEA’s QUANUM methodology, and to develop new standard operating procedures (SOPs) to strengthen the delivery of nuclear medicine (NM) interventions in the region. QUANUM, which stands for Quality Management Audits in Nuclear Medicine Practices, provides a framework for independent quality audits and reviews of NM practices, contributing to the improvement of nuclear medicine services globally.

Organized as part of an ongoing IAEA technical cooperation (TC) project[1], the meeting gathered regional NM experts to respond to the Action Plan on Strengthening Nuclear Medicine in Africa. This Plan, which elaborates practical steps to strengthen the quality and safety of nuclear medicine in the region, was developed by a multi-disciplinary team of African NM professionals during an event supported by the IAEA and the Argonne National Laboratory at the Anderson Cancer Centre in Texas, USA, in January 2018.

At the task force meeting, regional experts and Member State representatives shared their experiences in the use of the QUANUM tool. They also developed standard operating procedures (SOPs) and discussed the development of a web-based interface for the QUANUM tool, making it more user-friendly and more easily accessible as a self-assessment tool. They also developed a new project proposal for 2020-2021, with a focus of further improving nuclear medicine services on the basis of quality criteria.

Patient-oriented and outcome-based quality management constitutes a key element in the safe and effective application of nuclear technology, particularly as it relates to medical diagnostics and therapy. It helps Member States comply with the IAEA’s Basic Safety Standards, and fosters transparency and increases potential synergies between radiation safety experts, national regulators and NM practitioners.

The IAEA supports African Member States as they establish and improve their nuclear medicine services, placing a strong emphasis on safety and on the provision of efficient and effective services. A number of African Member States are currently working to expand their nuclear medicine capabilities, which in turn will require strengthened mechanisms for both internal and external peer reviews.

As many countries in Africa region face budgetary, personnel, technical and other resource constraints, the IAEA is proceeding with the strengthening of nuclear medicine departments —including the development of QUANUM tools—in a phased, incremental manner, with due consideration, at each step, of the best way to achieve the most beneficial results in the shortest amount of time.

[1] RAF/6/051, ‘Strengthening Education and Human Resources Development for Expansion and Sustainability of Nuclear Medicine Services in Africa’

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