AFRONET Announced Its Expansion to Further Continents

The Africa Radiation Oncology Network (AFRONET) was founded 5 years ago in June 2012 as an IAEA pilot telemedicine project for Anglophone Africa. Since then it has proven highly successful and on the occasion of its 50th meeting on 4 October plans to expand to other regions of the world were presented.

Due to a lack of sufficient radiotherapy centres in many low income countries, outdated equipment and a shortage of training opportunities for professionals, centres often have to work in isolation and have limited access to up-to-date published literature, international meetings and expert opinion. AFRONET has provided a unique opportunity for participating centres to present and discuss cases with experts from within and outside Africa. This activity has benefitted not only practicing professionals, but also radiation oncology residents through early and periodic exposure to high quality lectures and evidence-based case discussions. Using a multi-disciplinary Virtual Tumor Board (VTB) where cancer professionals present, discuss and review challenging cancer cases, the network has helped strengthen clinical decision-making in radiotherapy centers across Anglophone Africa.

The need to discuss questions not limited only to radiotherapy has shown the need to explore further fields where AFRONET could provide information and work to sustain knowledge. Access to pathology, imaging, endoscopy and specialized surgery is challenging in many locations and including other allied medical disciplines such as pathology and imaging will be important in the future.

Expansion of the network to other regions and continents would build on the experience gained in Anglophone Africa and be based on the positive feedback from participants in the pilot project and the proven feasibility of the platform. The AFRONET pilot is planned to expand similar web-based meetings to Francophone Africa, Asia-Pacific, Latin America and Russian speaking countries and provide its services in other languages besides English as per needs of the new regions covered. An exclusive transregional network on paediatric cancers is also planned, which will seek to bring specialists from different regions worldwide together. It will be led by two paediatric radiation oncologists from Turkey and Egypt.

Source: International Atomic Energy Agency