Clinical training to address shortage of Imaging Medical Physicists opens in Accra

A fellowship on clinical training in nuclear medicine to address the shortage of Imaging Medical Physicists in Africa was opened in Accra last Tuesday.

This comes on the heels of the maiden fellowship held in 2021, after a study conducted by the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) and the Federation of African Medical Physicists Organization (FAMPO) revealed that Africa has only 200 imaging medical physicists instead of the over 4,000 needed to serve the continent.

The six-month fellowship being hosted by the Radiological and Medical Sciences Research Institute (RAMSRI) of the Ghana Atomic Energy Commission (GAEC) and the Nuclear Medicine Department of the Korle-Bu Teaching Hospital with sponsorship from the IAEA brings together eight participants from five African countries: Ethiopia, Kenya, Morocco, Sudan, and Tanzania.

The fellowship aims at strengthening and sustaining medical imaging services in Africa through academic education programs and clinical training, as well as effective diagnostic and interventional radiological practices to ensure healthy lives and promote the wellbeing of everyone.

The Director-General of GAEC, Prof. Samuel Dampare (second left), and other dignitaries at the event.

Addressing the participants at the opening ceremony, the Director-General of GAEC, Prof. Samuel Dampare, announced that the fellowship starts on April 3, 2023, and ends on October 3, 2023.

He explained that several studies by the IAEA showed that even though there were medical physicists at the Radiotherapy Centres in the member states of the African Regional Cooperative Agreement for Research, Development, and Training Related to Nuclear Science and Technology (AFRA), the same could not be said of Nuclear Medicine and Diagnostic Radiological Centres. “As a result, a task force group was setup to put together a training curriculum that was later harmonized for academic and clinical training in medical physics in Africa,” he added.

“Currently, 11 countries, namely Ghana, Nigeria, South Africa, Kenya, Algeria, Egypt, Libya, Morocco, Sudan, Tunisia, and Zimbabwe, have academic programs in this regard,” he indicated.

He admonished the participants to help their countries develop the competencies needed in nuclear medicine physics with the knowledge and experiences they would gain at the end of the fellowship.

“This is a very great opportunity provided by the IAEA, and I would want to encourage you all, fellows, to make the best out of the situation,” he added.

The Director of RAMSRI at GAEC, Prof. Francis Hasford, reiterated the importance of the training to equip medical physicists with the needed competencies to become clinically qualified to practice independently in one or more of the subfields of medical physics.

Prof. Hasford, who is also the project scientific consultant, said the participants would be taken through 10 key areas. They are clinical awareness, performance testing of imaging equipment, radiation protection and safety, dosimetry instrumentation and calibration, and patient radiation dose audit.

The rest are image quality assessment, optimization of clinical procedures, technological management in nuclear medicine, radioactivity measurements and internal dosimetry, and performance testing of nuclear medicine equipment.

The fellowship supervisor, Dr. Theophilus Sackey, on his part, mentioned that there were a lot of expectations for the participants during the fellowship. He urged them to network among fellows and experts, gain knowledge of the harmonized protocol for quality control in nuclear medicine, and publish their works at the end of the fellowship, among other things.


GAEC-BNARI to Inaugurate Experimental Hut Station for Innovative Malaria Vector Research

The Biotechnology and Nuclear Agriculture Research Institute (BNARI) of the Ghana Atomic Energy Commission (GAEC) is set to inaugurate an experimental hut station for innovative research in managing malaria-transmitting mosquitoes in a rural community in the Ashanti Region of Ghana.

The experimental hut station, which is located at Atatem in the Adansi Asokwa District, is a simplified model of an indigenous home, built to World Health Organization (WHO) standards that will allow researchers to test the efficacy of insecticides used in indoor residual spray (IRS) and long-lasting insecticidal nets (LLINs) to kill disease vectors such as Anopheles gambiae and Anopheles funestus.

The Director of BNARI, Dr. Michael Osae, made this known yesterday when he interacted with communication personnel to announce a host of activities earmarked for the 2023 annual GAEC-BNARI Malaria Awareness Campaign (MAC-2023) slated for 9th May 2023.

Director of BNARI, Dr. Michael Osae

According to Dr. Osae, the decision to establish the hut in the Atatem community stems from prior research, which indicates that mosquito vectors of malaria are prevalent and highly resistant to insecticides. Premised on this fact, he said there is a good foundation for siting the experimental hut to test new vector control tools being developed against resistant vectors.

“Mosquito nets would be hung in the experimental hut to collect mosquitoes for the test. The mosquitoes will then be examined to determine the effectiveness of vector control tools like treated nets and insecticide sprays,” he added.

Dr. Osae stated that the experimental hut station is a highly effective way to eliminate non-responsive control measures and validate new and appropriate interventions to help control disease-transmitting mosquitoes.

“This project was established in collaboration with the Center for Research in Infectious Diseases in Cameroon through a Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation grants. The Center for Research in Infectious Diseases of Cameroon were awarded a Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation grant to study mosquito insecticide resistance and its impact on vector control tools across Africa. The participation of Ghana in the project enabled GAEC to be given a sub-grant to carry out this component,” he added.

Shedding light on some key activities of the awareness campaign, Dr Osae said that apart from the commissioning of the experimental hut station, there would be an awareness talk to educate community members in Atatem and its environs on malaria prevention and control.

He also indicated that there would be a free health screening exercise and distribution of free mosquito repellents for residents.