Along with surgery and chemotherapy, radiotherapy is an essential part of cancer treatment. With respect to radiation medicine infrastructure, the IAEA estimates that there is currently a deficiency of at least 5,000 radiotherapy machines in developing countries. This shortage means that up to seventy per cent of cancer patients in LMI countries who may benefit from radiation medicine do not receive this essential curative or pain relieving treatment.
To address the lack of radiotherapy services in LMI countries, the IAEA established an Advisory Group on increasing access to Radiotherapy Technology in low and middle income countries (AGaRT) in 2009 under PACT, with the technical support of the IAEA's Division of Human Health and Division of Radiation, Transport and Waste Safety.
AGaRT acts as a neutral facilitator to bring together radiotherapy equipment suppliers and radiotherapy users in developing countries to encourage that the radiotherapy service requirements of LMI countries are met by the technology available.
AGaRT provides an unprecedented platform to:
- Assess current radiotherapy opportunities and capacities, to increase access to radiotherapy technology;
- Identify gaps in the accessibility of radiotherapy services and the limitations in the delivery, operation and maintenance of radiotherapy equipment in LMICs;
- Review and recommend criteria for radiotherapy equipment that is affordable, effective and appropriate for the conditions of LMICs;
- Review and recommend minimum requirements to operate a radiotherapy facility safely and ensure its sustainability in LMICs.