Australia’s Nuclear Science And Technology Organisation (ANSTO) has announced the launch of a new patient care project to enhance radiology services in the Asia and Pacific region.  

The Australian-led initiative has secured A$1.3m ($862,550) in funding from the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) over the next four years. 

It also received support from the government parties to the Regional Cooperative Agreement for Research, Development and Training Related to Nuclear Science and Technology for Asia and the Pacific (RCA-AP). 

The project, titled ‘improving the quality and safety of diagnostic and interventional radiology services to benefit health care by enhancing the status, knowledge and skills of medical physicists (RCA)’, aligns with the IAEA’s Rays of Hope initiative.  

IAEA’s flagship programme seeks to assist low- as well as middle-income countries in accessing cancer diagnosis and treatment through radiation medicine. 

The new four-year project will focus on bridging the country’s existing gap in radiotherapy facilities, fostering capacity building in radiation oncology, and promoting cooperation in quality assurance, research, training and delivery of radiotherapy services.  

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It further aims to strengthen the clinical role of radiology medical physicists to improve patient care in the participating Asian and Pacific countries. 

Leading the project is Dr Ioannis Delakis, with the assistance of Dr Zoe Brady, chief physicist (Diagnostic Imaging) and Melbourne’s Alfred Hospital radiation safety officer and Australasian College of Physical Scientists and Engineers in Medicine (ACPSEM) Diagnostic Imaging Certification Panel chair.  

Dr Donald McLean, a partner of the IAEA and RCA-AP, also contributed to the virtual workshop that marked the launch of the project.  

The RCA-AP, a treaty-level agreement under the IAEA, encompasses 22 countries in the Asia-Pacific region, including China, India, Malaysia, Nepal, Mongolia, New Zealand, Pakistan, the Republic of Korea, Singapore, Thailand, Sri Lanka, Laos, Japan, Cambodia, Indonesia, among others.  

The regional programme includes 17 active technical cooperation projects across various sectors such as human health, radiation protection, environment, and other industries.  

Delakis said: “The launch marked the beginning of collaborative, impactful discussions and activities focusing on the need to bolster the recognition of the medical physics profession in our region in a field where there is a critical shortage.”