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Students Graduate from First French-language Master’s Course in Radiopharmacy in Africa


The first cohort of students from Burkina Faso, Cote d’Ivoire, the Democratic Republic of Congo, and Mauritius are expected to return to their home countries and assume their responsibilities as qualified radiopharmacists. (Photo: N. Bentaleb/CNESTEN)

Burkina Faso, Cote d’Ivoire, the Democratic Republic of Congo and Mauritius now, for the first time, will have certified radiopharmacists. After two years of a pioneering IAEA-supported Master’s degree programme, they will now be helping to meet the growing need for radiopharmacists in Africa.

They were part of the first cohort of students who received their Master in Radiopharmacy degrees at a public ceremony hosted by the Moroccan National Centre for Energy, Nuclear Sciences and Techniques (CNESTEN) in July this year. Held at the Mohammed V University in Rabat, and organized in collaboration with CNESTEN, the programme is the first post-graduate curriculum in radiopharmacy in French in Africa.

Radiopharmacy involves the preparation and handling of radiopharmaceuticals, which are radioactive medicines with diverse clinical applications from diagnosis to treatment and palliation. Radiopharmaceuticals are increasingly used for the management of cancer, enabling the screening of tumours, the selection of appropriate therapies, and the monitoring and evaluation of a tumour’s behaviour. Radiopharmaceuticals are produced in hospitals or at industrial radiopharmacies around the world by radiopharmacists, who are responsible for ensuring product quality and radiation safety.

Jean Eric Granger, from Côte d'Ivoire, explained his motivation for pursuing the degree: “After seeing the increasing incidence of cancer in my country, I decided to pursue training and accreditation in radiopharmacy. My next step is to return to the Institute of Nuclear Medicine in my country, to support its inauguration and to begin working toward the well-being of the Ivorian people. I would like to continue my studies and obtain a PhD in radiopharmacy, eventually supporting the future generations of radiopharmacists in my country.”

Kiswendsida Victor Gansonre, the graduate from Burkina Faso, highlighted the importance of ensuring that radiopharmaceuticals are developed, manufactured, and controlled in line with international standards. “Radiopharmacy helps nuclear medicine to achieve high standards and concrete results by providing specific, safe, and effective radiopharmaceutical drugs,” he said.

The French language Master’s programme evolved out of an ongoing IAEA technical cooperation project launched in 2018 to enhance radiopharmacy capacities in Africa.

“Radiopharmaceutical science is a dynamic and growing field with continued demand for qualified professionals,” explained Melissa Denecke, Director of the IAEA Division of Physical and Chemical Sciences. “The Master’s programme is empowering these graduates and will contribute to strengthening the management of cancer and other diseases on the African continent.”

The curriculum includes practical exercises at CNESTEN’s molecular biology laboratories; work with aseptic techniques, hot cells and cyclotrons managed by the company Cyclopharma; and exploration of the operation of both radiopharmaceutical production and radioactive waste management facilities. Students also participate in a train-the-trainers event to strengthen their ability to support further deployment of radiopharmacy technologies in their countries.

“These students have a vital role to play and are accountable for establishing radiopharmacy services and supporting improved human health in their countries,” said Shaukat Abdulrazak, Director of the Division for Africa in the IAEA Department of Technical Cooperation.

Next year, students from Cameroon, Morocco, Niger, Senegal and Tunisia are expected to graduate from the Master’s programme.

As part of the Master’s programme, the graduates benefitted from specialized hot cell and cyclotron training provided by the company Cyclopharma. (Photo: Cyclopharma)


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