WE-H-201-04: Models for Developing Medical Physics Educators and Education Programs in the Developing Countries and the Potential Role of US Universities and Individual Medical Physicists

Authors


Abstract

The desperate need for radiotherapy in low and mid-income countries (LMICs) has been well documented. Roughly 60 % of the worldwide incidence of cancer occurs in these resource-limited settings and the international community alongside governmental and non-profit agencies have begun publishing reports and seeking help from qualified volunteers. However, the focus of several reports has been on how dire the situation is and the magnitude of the problem, leaving most to feel overwhelmed and unsure as to how to help and why to get involved.

This session will help to explain the specific ways that Medical Physicists can uniquely assist in this grand effort to help bring radiotherapy to grossly-underserved areas. Not only can these experts fulfill an important purpose, they also can benefit professionally, academically, emotionally and socially from the endeavor. By assisting others worldwide with their skillset, Medical Physicists can end up helping themselves.

Learning Objectives:

  • 1.Understand the need for radiotherapy in LMICs.
  • 2.Understand which agencies are seeking Medical Physicists for help in LMICs.
  • 3.Understand the potential research funding mechanisms are available to establish academic collaborations with LMIC researchers/physicians.
  • 4.Understand the potential social and emotional benefits for both the physicist and the LMIC partners when collaborations are made.
  • 5.Understand the potential for collaboration with other high-income scientists that can develop as the physicist partners with other large institutions to assist LMICs.

Wil Ngwa - A recent United Nations Study reports that in developing countries more people have access to cell phones than toilets. In Africa, only 63% of the population has access to piped water, yet, 93% of Africans have cell phone service. Today, these cell phones, Skype, WhatsApp and other information and communication technologies (ICTs) connect us in unprecedented ways and are increasingly recognized as powerful, indispensable to global health. Thanks to ICTs, there are growing opportunities for Medical Physicists to reach out beyond the bunker and impact the world far beyond, without even having to travel.

These growing opportunities in global health for Medical Physicists, powered by ICTs, will be highlighted in this presentation, illustrated by high impact examples/models across the globe that are improving patient safety and healthcare outcomes, saving lives.

Learning Objectives:

  • 1.Published definitions of global health and the emerging field of global radiation oncology
  • 2.Learn about the transformative potential of ICTs in global radiation oncology care, research and education with focus on Medical Physics
  • 3.Learn about high impact examples of ICT-powered global radiation oncology and the increasing opportunities for participation by Medical Physicists.

Yakov Pipman - The number and scope of volunteer Medical Physics activities in support of low-to-middle income countries has been increasing gradually. This happens through a variety of formal channels and to some extent through less formal but personal initiatives. A good deal of effort is dedicated by many, but many more could be recruited through a structured framework to volunteer.

We will look into typical volunteer activities and how they fit with organizations already involved in advancing Medical Physics in LMIC. We will identify the range of these organizational activities and their scope to reveal areas of further need.

We will point to a few key features of MPWB (www.mpwb.org) as a volunteering and collaborating structure and how members can get involved and contribute to these efforts at the grass roots level. The goal is that scarce resources can thus be channeled to complement rather than compete with those already in place.

Learning Objectives:

  • 1.Understand the strengths and limitations of various organizations that support Medical Physics efforts in LMIC.
  • 2.Learn about ways to volunteer and contribute to Global Health through a grass roots organization focused on Medical Physics in LMIC.

Perry Sprawls - With the growing capability and complexity of medical imaging methods in all countries of the world, the expanding role of medical physicists includes optimizing imaging procedures with respect to image quality, radiation dose, and other conflicting factors. With access to appropriate educational resources local medical physicists in all countries can provide direct clinical support and educational for other medical professionals. This is being supported through the process of Collaborative Teaching that combines the capabilities and experience of medical physicists in countries spanning the spectrum of economic, technological, and clinical development. The supporting resources are on the web at: www.sprawls.org/resources.

Learning Objectives:

  • 1.Identify the medical physics educational needs to support effective and optimized medical imaging procedures.
  • 2.Use collaborative teaching resources to enhance the role of medical physicists in all countries of the world.

Ancillary