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IAEA Launches Spanish Version of Portal to Help Promote Safe Use of Ionizing Radiation in Health Care


Ionizing radiation is extensively used worldwide to analyze, diagnose, monitor, or treat a wide range of medical conditions. (Photo: IAEA)

The use of ionizing radiation in health care is of overwhelmingly great benefit to patients, from imaging suspected bone fractures to diagnosing and treating life-threatening cancers. However, ionizing radiation also has potentially harmful effects. Therefore, with around nine million health care professionals worldwide involved in medical uses of ionizing radiation, to minimize unnecessary and unintended exposure, these health workers must know how to safely administer its use.  

The IAEA’s radiation protection of patients (RPOP) web portal provides crucial information  on the safe use of ionizing radiation in medical settings. The portal, developed in the English language in 2006 and revamped in 2017, offers a plethora of information for professionals who provide procedures that involve radiation – from dental treatments to heart imaging – and for patients interested in the safety of those types of procedures. It is accessed by hundreds of thousands of people every year, and following analysis of its visitors – indicating that a large proportion were located in Iberoamerica – the IAEA this year launched the revamped portal also in the Spanish language.  

“Taking into account the location of a significant share of our visitors, as well as the popularity of the radiation protection courses we have provided to health professionals in Spanish, it was decided to provide this portal in Spanish,” said Ola Holmberg, Head of the IAEA’s Radiation Protection of Patients Unit of the IAEA. “We are very aware that to get closer to our end-users, we must provide them with accurate, credible and substantive guidance and information in their native language, especially in a region where numbers show a great demand for content.”

Already attracting tens of thousands of additional visits every month, the Spanish version of the portal follows the same format as the English. It provides 130 pages on dozens of topics with concise-and-easy to understand information written by specialists, such as medical physicists, radiologists, nuclear medicine physicians and radiation oncologists.

The portal is divided in two broad sub-sections: one for patients and the public and one for health professionals. In each, the portal provides answers to frequently asked questions on safety in procedures from different specialties, such as X-rays, cancer treatments, mammography, and many others. Where appropriate, each procedure provides information for relevant patient groups, such as children and pregnant women. The portal also includes educational resources and reference materials for health professionals, such as scientific papers, publications, posters, eLearning, webinars and information on the IAEA safety standards. 

“The IAEA has a mandate to support countries in the safe and beneficial use of ionizing radiation – and its most common use globally is in medicine,” said Holmberg. “Comprehensive, relevant and up-to-date information and guidance on the safe use of radiation in medicine is of great benefit to patients and health professionals, and providing this service to groups in their native languages is an important way in which the IAEA can help facilitate the safe use of ionizing radiation within health care settings.”

 The portals can be freely accessed here. Both are updated regularly with advancements and developments in medical procedures and equipment that use radiation.

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