Geneva, Switzerland — The International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) is committed to aiding countries to bolster their cancer care capacities and optimize the benefits of nuclear science and technology across multiple health domains. This significant role was underscored at the 76th World Health Assembly (WHA) that took place in Geneva.
At the WHA, representatives from the IAEA emphasized the importance of a robust partnership with the World Health Organization (WHO) that has driven progress in several health sectors, including cancer care, nutrition, vector-borne diseases, and radiation protection and safety for patients and health workers.
The IAEA has a critical mission to improve access to cancer care, particularly in low-and-middle-income countries (LMICs). The agency’s Rays of Hope initiative is instrumental in enabling LMICs to establish and enhance access to radiation-based medical technologies. This support extends to needs assessments, training, expert advice, and procurement of equipment.
Collaborations in 2022 with the WHO and the International Agency for Research on Cancer (IARC) allowed the IAEA to support countries like Colombia, Lao People’s Democratic Republic, the Syrian Arab Republic, and Uzbekistan in incorporating radiation medicine services into their national cancer care plans. A further ten countries will receive cancer control assessments this year, to aid in planning and resource mobilization of large-scale cancer control projects.
The IAEA is also partnering with WHO in a joint mission to combat cancers that affect women and children. The agency is engaged in helping countries formulate national policies related to cancer, build capacity in radiation medicine, and mobilize resources for cancer care within the framework of the Global Programme to Eliminate Cervical Cancer and the Global Initiative on Childhood Cancer.
In addition, the IAEA is also actively collaborating with numerous United Nations and intergovernmental organizations. These collaborations extend to the UN Population Fund in addressing women’s cancers, UNICEF in primary prevention and treatment for childhood cancer, UNODC on palliative care, and the World Bank and the Islamic Development Bank to increase financing for cancer care resources.
Flagship initiatives such as the Zoonotic Disease Integrated Action (ZODIAC) were highlighted for their contribution to pandemic preparedness and response. Collaborating with the Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO), World Organization for Animal Health (OIE), WHO, and other partners, the IAEA organized training activities on Monkeypox and Lassa Fever in Africa and Asia last year.
The IAEA, in its mission to advance global health, emphasizes the significance of multi-dimensional partnerships, including with national ministries of health and partner organizations. The focus of these collaborations is to enhance technical cooperation activities in areas of cancer and key IAEA initiatives such as Rays of Hope, ZODIAC, the Marie Skłodowska-Curie Fellowship Programme, and NUTEC Plastics.
The discussions held during the WHA week reinforce the pivotal role of the IAEA in enhancing global health through nuclear science. The IAEA’s dedicated partnership with WHO and its proactive initiatives across various health sectors underscore the importance of collaborative efforts in achieving global health goals.