Sci-Fri AM: Quality, Safety, and Professional Issues 07: Global Medical Physics Efforts: Closing the Gap
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There is an increasing awareness of the disparity in Medical Physics needs between high income countries (HICs) and low-to-middle income countries (LMICs). This is especially evident with the growing incidence of cancer in LMICs. Projections from the recent Lancet Oncology Commission on Expanding Global Access to Radiotherapy indicate that an additional 22,000 Medical Physicists will be required by 2035 to provide uniform access to radiation therapy globally. This paper addresses possibilities and challenges associated with closing the Medical Physics gap between HICs and LMICs.
Medical Physics and Oncology related organizations involved in providing support to enhance cancer therapy in LMICs were reviewed, especially as related to education, training and human resource development.
More than 35 organizations involved in addressing the cancer crisis in LMICs were found. Of these, 16 involve Medical Physics activities, with 7 being specific Medical Physics-related organizations. Ten of the 16 are involved in some LMIC activities with 6 having a major emphasis on LMIC contexts.
The development of Medical Physics human resource capacity is a major challenge for LMICs. Fifty-five countries have no radiation therapy capabilities and by implication no capacity to train Medical Physicists. Overt attention with structured and altruistic actions by HIC contexts will help make inroads into the LMIC needs. Clear options throughout career structures in support of global health considerations combined with strong partnerships between interested parties in HICs and LMICs will enhance the development of safe and resource-appropriate strategies for advancing Medical Physics capabilities.