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IAEA Launches Rays of Hope Partnership with 11 Japanese Universities and Institutions to Enhance Cancer Care in Asia and the Pacific

Vienna, Austria

The International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) has signed an agreement with an 11-member consortium of universities and scientific institutions in Japan under its Rays of Hope initiative, to strengthen the nuclear medicine workforce in Asia and the Pacific.

The arrangement, which builds on the achievements of a previous three-year partnership between the IAEA and the consortium, aims at harnessing a range of technical expertise to provide more training opportunities and share research outcomes, to help hospitals improve the diagnosis and treatment of cancer, particularly in developing countries.

The IAEA’s Rays of Hope initiative was launched in 2022 to support countries to establish or scale up safe, secure and effective radiation medicine capabilities, to bridge a major shortfall in equipment and highly skilled personnel in many developing countries. By focusing on countries without radiotherapy or with inequitable access, Rays of Hope prioritizes a limited number of high-impact, cost-effective and sustainable interventions in line with national needs and commitment.

“This arrangement builds on a partnership that has benefited 25 Member States in the region over the past few years. The new Practical Arrangements have huge potential to improve cancer services by investing time and resources in a targeted manner through Rays of Hope,” said Hua Liu, IAEA Deputy Director General and Head of the Department of Technical Cooperation, at the signing ceremony.

Working together, the IAEA and the Japanese consortium have already trained more than 175 medical professionals in areas such as cardiac imaging, paediatric nuclear medicine, and neurology and psychiatry, having held four training courses in 2019, and three scientific visits on neurology, hybrid imaging and quality assurance of equipment for least-developed countries.

The new arrangement, signed last week, will focus on capacity building related to clinical applications of nuclear medicine, and the exchange of data and information. All consortium members are exploring the opportunity to host at least one scientific visit per year.

The signatories agreed to cooperate on training medical professionals in the various specializations of nuclear medicine, and to share knowledge and best practices with a wider network of nuclear medicine facilities, with the aim of accelerating the establishment and expansion of cancer care facilities. 

The 11 institutions that signed the agreement comprise leading universities and hospitals in Japan, specialized in radiation medicine services and oncology research are: Osaka University Graduate School of Medicine; Fujita Health University School of Medicine; Hokkaido University Graduate School of Medicine; International University of Health and Welfare; Kanazawa University Institute of Medical, Pharmaceutical and Health Sciences; Kyoto University Hospital; National Cancer Center; Southern Tohoku Research Institute for Neuroscience; Tohoku University Graduate School of Medicine; Kagawa University; and Shonan Kamakura General Hospital.

Launched just over a year ago, Rays of Hope is rapidly fulfilling its objective to forge strategic partnerships and tap into diverse areas of funding to improve access to cancer care in low- and middle-income countries. Under the initiative, international arrangements with the world’s largest professional societies in the field as well as with the private sector have  been established.

“The use of nuclear science and technology for patients’ health and wellbeing is an area of priority for the consortium,” said Jun Hatazawa from the Osaka University Graduate School of Medicine, lead university of the consortium. “Joining the IAEA’s Rays of Hope initiative gives new promise to strengthening cancer diagnosis and treatment in the region.”

Rays of Hope

The projects included in Rays of Hope, based on sustainability, build or strengthen radiation safety legislation and infrastructure and provide quality control, guidance, training and equipment. Rays of Hope combines several elements into a set of interventions that build on and complement each other in order to maximize impact. Through a sharp focus on countries without radiotherapy or with inequitable access, Rays of Hope focuses on prioritizing a limited number of high-impact, cost-effective and sustainable interventions in line with national needs and commitment.

The IAEA is forging new partnerships and tapping into diverse funding sources, including from governments, international financing institutions and the private sector to ensure maximum reach, impact and sustainability of Rays of Hope.

Read more about Rays of Hope and the IAEA’s role in fighting cancer here.

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