Graduates from the first French-language master’s degree in radiopharmaceuticals in Africa

Graduates from the first French-language master’s degree in radiopharmaceuticals in Africa



Burkina Faso, Ivory Coast and the Democratic Republic of the Congo will now have certified radio pharmacists for the first time. After two years of a pioneering master’s course supported by the IAEA, they are now helping to meet the growing need for radiopharmacists in Africa.

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Burkina Faso, Ivory Coast and the Democratic Republic of the Congo will now have certified radio pharmacists for the first time. After two years of a pioneering master’s course supported by the IAEA, they are now helping to meet the growing need for radiopharmacists in Africa.

They were among the first cohort of students to receive their Masters in Radiopharmaceuticals at a public ceremony held by the Moroccan National Center for Energy, Nuclear Sciences and Techniques (CNESTEN) this July. The program, which takes place at the Mohammed V University in Rabat and is organized in collaboration with CNESTEN, is the first postgraduate curriculum for radiopharmacy in French in Africa.

Radiopharmacy encompasses the production and handling of radiopharmaceuticals, radioactive drugs with a wide range of clinical applications, from diagnosis to treatment and relief. Radiopharmaceuticals are increasingly used in the treatment of cancer to enable the screening of tumors, the selection of appropriate therapies, and the monitoring and evaluation of tumor behavior. Radiopharmaceuticals are manufactured worldwide in hospitals or in industrial radio pharmacies by radio pharmacists who are responsible for ensuring product quality and radiation safety.

Jean Eric Granger from Côte d’Ivoire explains his motivation for studying: “After seeing the increasing incidence of cancer in my country, I decided to train and be accredited in radiopharmacy. My next step is to return to the Institute of Nuclear Medicine in my country, support its inauguration and work for the welfare of the Ivorian people. I would like to continue my studies and do a PhD in radiopharmacy in order to ultimately support the future generations of radiopharmacists in my country. “

Burkina Faso graduate Kiswendsida Victor Gansonre highlighted the importance of ensuring that radiopharmaceuticals are developed, manufactured and controlled according to international standards. “Radiopharmaceuticals helps nuclear medicine achieve high standards and concrete results by providing specific, safe and effective radiopharmaceuticals,” he said.

The French-language Masters course emerged from an ongoing IAEA technical cooperation project that was launched in 2018 to improve radiopharmaceutical capacities in Africa.

“Radiopharmaceutical science is a dynamic and growing field with a continuing need for qualified professionals,” said Melissa Denecke, director of the IAEA’s Department of Physical and Chemical Sciences. “The Masters course strengthens these graduates and will help strengthen the management of cancer and other diseases on the African continent.”

The curriculum includes hands-on exercises in the molecular biology laboratories of CNESTEN; Work with aseptic techniques, hot cells and cyclotrons managed by the Cyclopharma company; and exploration of the operation of both radiopharmaceutical production and radioactive waste disposal facilities. The students also take part in a train-the-trainer event to strengthen their ability to support the continued use of radiopharmaceutical technologies in their countries.

“These students play an important role and are responsible for building radiopharmaceutical services and supporting improved human health in their countries,” said Shaukat Abdulrazak, director of the department for Africa in the IAEA’s technical cooperation division.

In the coming year, students from Cameroon, Morocco, Niger, Senegal and Tunisia are expected to complete the master’s course.

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