Identified areas in SE Asia
Radiation Therapy in Low Income Countries in SE Asia:
Radiation therapy services in SE Asia are limited and when present are often outdated. Long treatment gaps exist secondary to equipment breakdowns and a lack of timely maintenance services which significantly influences adequate oncological management. Cobalt machines are often outdated (operating on 3rd half lives or more), immobilization devices limited and simulation or planning systems non-existent. Furthermore, there is often a lack of formal training programs for radiation therapists and medical physicists. These factors challenge the delivery of accurate radiation therapy which directly impacts the efficacy of oncological treatments.
Some countries such as Myanmar, Cambodia and Nepal are making the transition from cobalt to newer, LINAC based equipment to overcome some of these previously mentioned hurdles. However, this transition requires support and guidance from those familiar with such technology to ensure the delivery of safe, accurate and effective radiation therapy.
Description of Volunteer Activities – Basic Training:
There is an established need for assistance in the basic training of local oncologists and allied health care professionals to assist in this transition process. Given the multidisciplinary nature of radiation oncology volunteers are not only needed in the form of radiation oncologists but also radiation therapists, physicists, nurses, biomedical engineers and IT specialists.
Required training includes such activities as education on the use of the CT simulator, immobilization devices, treatment console, portal films, dosimetry equipment, QA processes, and education on 2D and 3D treatments (CTV, PTV) and evaluation of DVH for the introduction of IMRT once proper training has been fulfilled.
It is recommended for radiation therapists and medical physicists to spend at least one month. Most ROs attend for 1-2 weeks, however longer periods are welcomed.
This concept is encouraged and fosters long-term support by trained professionals who form an affiliation with a department in need and conduct regularly visits (ie: annual, bi-annual) and provide support in-between visits (teleconferences, emails).
If you are interested in such opportunities and need assistance in forming an appropriate contact in SE Asia please contact A/Prof Graeme Morgan (firstname.lastname@example.org)