Dear Colleague Medical Physicists in Africa,
It is a pleasure to address you as we mark the 5th edition of the International Day of Medical Physics celebration. As fate may have it, this year’s celebration coincides with the 150th birthday of Marie Sklodowska-Curie, who is remembered for her outstanding discovery in relation to radioactivity. Marie’s contribution to science can never be overemphasized as long as radiation continues to be applied either for diagnosis or treatment of a myriad of medical conditions, most especially for the fight against cancer. Marie Curie has been recognized throughout the world not only for her groundbreaking Nobel Prize-winning discoveries, but also for having boldly broken many gender barriers during her lifetime.
In line with celebrating Marie Curie on 7th November, IDMP 2017 anchors on providing a holistic approach to women patients and women staff safety in radiation medicine. Several medical conditions in women such as breast and cervical cancers demand the application of radiation to achieve a particular diagnostic or therapeutic goal. However, there is always a potential for some side effects to occur when radiation is applied in medicine. These effects could be either stochastic or deterministic and hence appropriate radiation protection mechanisms need to be employed. Many women have concerns about radiation exposure and its effects, especially during pregnancy. For women to make informed decisions regarding their work around radiation, a clear understanding of the risk of radiation exposure during pregnancy, including risk to fetus, is required. Women’s understanding of the magnitude of the risk and mechanisms to limit exposure are necessary in order to feel comfortable in their work environment and perform to the best of their abilities.
According to the results of a survey carried out in 2013 and 2014 by the IOMP in 66 countries worldwide, the total number of Medical Physicists was estimated to be 17,000, of which 28% were female. This translated to about 5,000 female Medical Physicists the world over. In Africa, female Medical Physicists were estimated to be 220, which represents approximately 40% of the entire Medical Physics workforce in the Region.
As medical physicists, our roles in radiation medicine are very crucial as we engage in delivery of radiation treatment, dosimetry evaluation, radiation protection of patient, staff and the public, quality control and quality management of radiological health systems and procedures. As the Regional Federation of the IOMP, FAMPO remains committed to promote the advancement in status and standard of practice of the medical physics profession in Africa and to promote the improved quality of service to patients in the region. I call on all Medical Physicists in the Region to join in the celebration of IDMP 2017 and to use this season to publicize our noble profession the best way we possibly can. Congratulations to all female Medical Physicists in the Region for your tenacity in a male dominated profession.
Long live FAMPO!
Happy International Day of Medical Physics!
Dr. Taofeeq Abdallah IGE
President – FAMPO