Establishing a Modern Radiation Oncology Infrastructure in West Africa Through the Systematic Resolution of the Fundamental Problems Associated with Medicine in the Region
A Shulman, Overlook Medical Center, Summit, NJWE-A-211-2 Wednesday 8:00:00 AM - 9:55:00 AM Room: 211
Purpose: To bring together a large number of organizations, companies, foundations, government bodies, and institutions together in the common goal of overcoming the fundamental problems associated with medicine in West Africa and hence creating efficient, safe, and sustainable modern radiation therapy throughout the region.
Method and Materials: Radiating Hope’s project for modernizing radiation therapy across
West Africa can be broken down into two major components: supplying the physical necessities of a modern radiation oncology center; and secondly supplying the long-term support network of knowledge and expertise for the employees of each new center. In order to enable modern radiation treatments in West Africa, the first issue to be resolved is the fundamental issue of creating the necessary modern infrastructure to support the technical demands of modern radiation oncology equipment. The second aspect of establishing a modern workspace is to create (or renovate) the building and supply the necessary modern equipment. Radiating Hope has taken the standpoint that creating a system of radiation oncology centers with similar facilities and equipment will simplify the process of maintenance and support: a single maintenance body can oversee the entire network; the system of facilities will be able to assist each other over time; and any West African facility can receive assistance from any associated non-African teaching hospital within the network of Radiating Hope. Creating a uniform environment in terms of equipment, facilities, as well as education is the first step in creating sustainable and autonomous radiation oncology centers throughout West Africa. In order to create the necessary support network of knowledge and expertise in all aspects of radiation oncology, Radiating Hope has broken this down into four subcategories: first is the initial support for the implementation of equipment; second is the short-term and semi-permanent placement of American and European experts at various facilities; third is the implementation of paid residency positions for non-Africans as well as West Africans in a number of the fields of radiation oncology; and lastly is the formation of long-lasting partnerships between the new facilities in West Africa and teaching hospitals in the USA and Europe.
Results: Radiating Hope has formed a strong network of 16 partnerships, with two more in the workings. Radiating Hope is in the process of writing grants.
Conclusions: In order to most effectively conquer the overwhelming epidemic of cancer throughout West Africa, Radiating Hope has taken the standpoint that uniting the efforts of many organizations, foundations, companies, and institutions in a common goal will transform each party’s initiative into a single component of a more powerful force.
1. Understand the fundamental problems associated with a West African radiation oncology environment.
2. Understand how to make a significant and sustainable impact on radiation oncology in West Africa.
3. Understand the steps in combating the difficulties of radiation oncology in West Africa, as exemplified by the Radiating Hope Organization.