The South African Nuclear Energy Corporation (Necsa) and Rusatom Healthcare, the healthcare division of Russian State-owned nuclear corporation Rosatom, on Thursday signed an agreement to cooperate with each other on nonpower-related uses of nuclear technology.
The agreement, which is based on friendly relations between the two countries, aims to explore the full potential of deepening mutually beneficial cooperation in the sphere of innovation and technological development related to peaceful uses of nuclear.
It further outlines a number of areas in which the parties intend to cooperate but does not create any rights or obligations under international or national law.
The main area of cooperation identified is that of nuclear medicine and particularly the treatment of cancer in Africa and abroad.
“Both parties have a great deal of expertise in this sector and we believe that a combined effort will open up new markets and hasten new technological advancements in the sector,” Rusatom Healthcare director-general Denis Cherednichenko said at the signing.
He further noted that nuclear medicine was rapidly expanding globally and played an important role in the early detection of cancer and other noncommunicable diseases.
“This is an exciting time for us; we have long been planning a massive expansion of our nuclear medicine operations and look forward to exploring these opportunities with our Russian counterparts,” Necsa chairperson Dr Kelvin Kemm noted.
Necsa’s NTP Radioisotopes is a significant player in the global nuclear medicine industry.
Rusatom Healthcare and Necsa will partner on the construction of two innovative solution reactors in South Africa.
Solution reactors are small-scale and relatively inexpensive reactors that are designed specifically for the cost effective production of nuclear medicine products.
The parties also plan to build a commercial cyclotron in South Africa to further increase the production capacity of nuclear medicine in the region.
A cyclotron is another cost effective method of producing various radiopharmaceuticals.
Necsa CEO Phumzile Tshelane highlighted the fact that the expansion of nuclear medicine and early detection of cancer was directly in line with the target set by President Cyril Ramaphosa earlier this year.
“Nuclear medicine is the most effective method for the early detection of cancer. The earlier cancer is detected, the more likely it is to respond positively to treatment and this generally results in a greater probability of recovery,” he said.