IAEA OCT 11, 2016
Germany will remain a key partner for the IAEA in nuclear science and technology despite the country’s decision to phase out nuclear power, Director General Yukiya Amano said during a visit to Berlin, where he also attended the World Health Summit and delivered a keynote address.
The German government decided in 2011 to phase out nuclear power by 2022. Sixteen nuclear power plants are at different stages of decommissioning. The IAEA supports Member States by providing expert advice in decommissioning and in the safe and secure storage of radioactive waste, and it will continue to provide expert peer review services to Germany if requested, Mr Amano told Foreign Minister Frank-Walter Steinmeier.
Mr Amano said German experts had considerable know-how in the area of plant decommissioning and he expressed appreciation for their willingness to share their expertise with colleagues from other countries.
During a visit to the Wendelstein 7-X facility at the Max-Planck-Institute for Plasma Physics in Greifswald, he noted the importance of Germany’s contribution to research and international cooperation in fusion. Wendelstein 7-X is an experimental fusion reactor, completed in October 2015, at which scientists evaluate components that could be used for the construction of a future fusion power plant.
Contribution of nuclear technology to cancer care
Mr Amano was a keynote speaker at the World Health Summit. This was the first time that an IAEA Director General has participated in this annual conference of industry leaders and opinion-makers on global health issues.
He explained the role of the IAEA in improving access to quality health care in developing countries, especially in the area of cancer care.
The IAEA helps developing countries gain access to the latest techniques in nuclear medicine and radiation oncology, which are important in diagnosing and treating cancer. Through its Programme of Action for Cancer Therapy (PACT) the IAEA also helps countries use limited resources efficiently and works to raise global awareness of the challenge posed by cancer.
“Unlike in developed countries, where great progress has been made in understanding and treating cancer, a cancer diagnosis is often still a death sentence in developing countries,” Mr Amano said. “Around 80 percent of Africa’s one billion people have no access to radiotherapy and related cancer services at all. The IAEA is working to narrow that discrepancy.”
The IAEA’s work to fight cancer, along with key partners such as the World Health Organization and leading non-governmental organizations, had made a difference to countless individual lives, he said.
“But, to be frank, we are only scratching the surface. There is an estimated shortage of 5,000 radiotherapy machines throughout the world. To meet the cancer needs of developing countries, we need around 10,000 additional radiation oncologists, 6,000 medical physicists, 3,000 dosimetrists and 20,000 radiation therapists.”
This was a daunting challenge, he added. But the global response to the HIV/AIDS crisis had demonstrated that coordinated international action, backed by serious funding, can achieve results.
“I believe it is time to put cancer in developing countries at the top of the international agenda,” he said. “Many of the organizations and companies represented at this World Health Summit can help to make that happen.”
“A comprehensive approach is needed which must include cancer prevention, surveillance, screening, early detection, treatment and palliative care,” he told his audience. “Please join us. By working together, we can save millions of lives.”