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National Liaison Officers from Asia and the Pacific Chart the Way Forward for the Use of Nuclear Techniques in their Countries

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NLOs and NLAs broke off into smaller working group sessions to discuss the TC programme in the region. (Photo: W. Foster/IAEA)

From 8 to 12 July, over 60 National Liaison Officers (NLOs) and National Liaison Assistants (NLAs) from more than 30 countries and territories in Asia and the Pacific gathered at IAEA Headquarters in Vienna for a week-long workshop. The NLO meeting was organized to enhance the impact and efficiency of the numerous activities being implemented in the region through the Agency’s technical cooperation (TC) programme and to share their experience in impactful programme delivery.

2018 was a particularly successful year for the TC programme in the region, said Jane Gerardo-Abaya, Director of the Division for Asia and the Pacific. Thirty-eight countries and territories received technical cooperation support, over 800 experts participated in training courses, nearly 700 specialists took part in fellowships and scientific visits, 36 regional training courses were organized, more than 1000 expert and lecture assignments delivered, and over 1600 meeting participants were supported, she added.

To better understand how IAEA staff and Member State counterparts achieved such a high rate of implementation in 2018, an exchange of experiences and perspectives formed the basis of the week-long meeting. “The Asia Pacific region has a very active technical cooperation programme, with a broad scope of thematic areas and countries. This workshop is a great opportunity for us to further increase the impact of our activities in the region by learning from each other’s journey to successes, demonstrating that substantive progress can be achieved from modest beginnings,” said Gerardo-Abaya.

The NLOs and NLAs presented summaries of their experiences, describing the journeys that led to the achievements in the management of their national TC programmes.

Participants heard examples from their peers, such as Vansopanha Lek, the National Liaison Officer from Cambodia. “With TC support, Cambodia established its first National Cancer Care Center. This enabled us to set up our current national cancer therapy treatment programme. Following this achievement, we look forward to making plans for the future in the field of cancer therapy,” he said.

Hadj Slimane Cherif, the National Liaison Officer of Oman, shared a success story from his country. “Our Ministry of Health has adopted a new policy to screen travellers from malaria endemic places, using molecular diagnostic methods acquired through IAEA TC projects. This will eventually lead to Oman becoming a malaria-free country,” he added.

A compendium compiling recent achievements and accomplishments realized with the support of the IAEA’s TC programme, was made available to all of the attending national counterparts. “The examples and lessons learned catalogued in the compendium will serve to guide, inspire and maximize the participation of Member States in the programme,” said Gerardo-Abaya.

NLOs, NLAs and IAEA staff on the first day of the workshop, alongside Deputy Director General and Head of the Department of Technical Cooperation Dazhu Yang. (Photo: O. Yusuf/IAEA)

What’s next?

Looking toward the future, participants of the National Liaison meeting explored how best to further enhance the efficiency and effectiveness of the TC Programme’s contribution to socioeconomic development in the Asia and the Pacific region, focussing their attention on partnerships to multiply the impact of IAEA support.  

During the opening of the meeting, Deputy Director General Dazhu Yang highlighted the value of this approach to the NLOs and NLAs. “Your workshop will bring out creative ideas, innovative approaches and partnership opportunities to enhance the effectiveness and leverage the contribution of our TC Programme for tangible socioeconomic impact in Member States and in achieving the Sustainable Development Goals,” he said. “We need to continuously strengthen TC programme planning and expand collaboration to ensure that the programme remains dynamic, competitive and robust.”

Two action plans were developed and agreed upon to sustain the lessons learned and the way forward. The first establishes the actions needed to move forward to leverage the achievements of the region to enhance partnerships, and the second plan identifies the actions and common references to enhance efficiency and effectiveness of the TC programme in the region.

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