OPEC Fund extends US$200,000 grant to strengthen radiotherapy services in Africa



December 10, 2002
Vienna, Austria

The OPEC Fund for International Development today approved a grant of US$200,000 in support of a scheme to help strengthen clinical radiotherapy services in 20 member states of the African Regional Cooperative Agreement for Research, Development and Training Related to Nuclear Science and Technology (AFRA). As an extension of an ongoing initiative, the project's principal objectives are to optimize use of available facilities, strengthen personnel training and generally improve the standard of radiotherapy practices in Africa for the most commonly diagnosed cancers. 

Although most African countries have radiotherapy centers, the standard and quality of available treatment vary widely. As a result, a large proportion of cancer sufferers, many of them women, do not receive appropriate therapy. Continent-wide, less than 100 radiotherapy machines are in operation, which falls significantly short of the estimated need of around 1,500. These deficiencies are due to a combination of high equipment cost, inadequate infrastructure and lack of qualified personnel. The present scheme has been designed by the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA), which has already made significant headway in addressing some of these issues with the successful implementation of its initiative, Improvement of Clinical Radiotherapy in AFRA States (1995-2001). This was also co-financed by the Fund with a US$150,000 grant. 

The new project will build on these achievements with the launch of activities scheduled for the period 2002-2006, which will, among other things, focus on consolidating the improvements and advances already made. Specialized teams will be assembled to audit all aspects of radiotherapy services in participating countries with respect to the most prevalent forms of cancers found in Africa; namely those of the breast, cervix, head/neck and HIV-related carcinomas. These findings will then be communicated to the health authorities along with recommendations for appropriate interventions. Improved clinical practices will be promoted by optimizing existing treatment methods and introducing new techniques, and support will be provided to AFRA countries where radiotherapy is not yet available. Training courses and workshops across all levels of health care personnel will be provided and materials produced to enhance public education. Each radiotherapy center will also be supplied with safety information to help reduce occupational exposures to radiation.


Sector: Health
Project: Management of the Most Common Cancers in AFRA Countries
OPEC Fund grant: US$200,000
Beneficiaries: Member countries of the African Regional Cooperative Agreement for Research, Development and Training Related to Nuclear Science and Technology (AFRA)
Total cost: US$8.9 million
Co-financiers: International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA), Beneficiary governments
Executing agencies: IAEA, Recipient governments, AFRA Field Management
Grant administrator: OPEC Fund
Project duration: Ongoing (2002-2006)