The Country’s first Nuclear Medicine Center Opened in Jamaica

In early July, as part of the IAEA’s Rays of Hope initiative, established to help countries fight cancer, the country’s first Center for Nuclear Medicine was opened in Jamaica, located at the University Hospital of the West Indies in the capital, Kingston. In the clinic, citizens will be able to undergo treatment for cancer and other diseases, including cardiovascular, diabetes and chronic respiratory diseases, which are the cause of death of seven out of ten Jamaicans. 

Under the umbrella of the IAEA’s Technical Cooperation programme, the IAEA provided the new centre with essential equipment such as a SPECT/CT diagnostic machine, a dose calibrator, equipment for radiopharmacy facilities and phantoms, together with a supply of the material and reagents. 

In addition, the IAEA has trained staff, including nuclear medicine technologists, radio pharmacists, radiologists, and medical physicists. IAEA experts have also advised the country on how to establish an accredited training programme for nuclear medicine professionals. 

The safe and secure use of radioactive material necessary for treatment and diagnosis of patients in the new centre will be overseen by the Hazardous Substances Regulatory Authority (HSRA), the independent regulatory body of the Caribbean community. Through the technical cooperation programme, the IAEA provided the HSRA with training, equipment to conduct regulatory functions and guidance to establish a new database for inventory of radiation sources.  

It is worth pointing out that Jamaica annually has more than 7000 new cancer cases per year, however, Jamaica has until now operated only four teletherapy machines in its public medical facilities and no nuclear medicine facilities. The IAEA’s assistance to Jamaica in this area started in 2014, 12 years after the last existing public nuclear medicine facility closed. 

According to the IAEA