The Ghana Society for Medical Physics has commemorated the 2018 International Day of Medical Physics, with a seminar in Accra on the theme: “Medical Physics for Patient Benefit”.
The annual event is celebrated on November 7, on the birthday of Marie Curie, a popular female scientist who pioneered research in radiation.
It seeks to raise public awareness about the critical role that medical physicists play within the healthcare delivery system.
Mr George Felix Acquah, the Head of Medical Physics, at the Sweden Ghana Medical Centre, (SGMC), a cancer treatment facility, who delivered the keynote address, explained that the unique profession dealt with the application of physics principles for the diagnosis and treatment of diseases.
He said since the diagnosis and treatment of diseases such as cancers usually involved the use of radiation-emitting equipment, medical physicists were employed in the clinical fields of radiotherapy, diagnostic radiology and nuclear medicine, with the primary responsibility of ensuring safety in the use of radiation for healthcare in hospitals.
They are responsible for the accurate calibration, management and operation of those equipment to help achieve a particular diagnostic or treatment goal in radiation medicine.
Mr Acquah said the theme was sensitive and dear to the hearts of medical physicists, considering their indispensable role as key partners of the healthcare team.
He, therefore, encouraged radiotherapy, diagnostic radiology and nuclear medicine centres in Ghana to employ at least one Medical Physicist who would ensure that patients were diagnosed and treated with radiation in a safe manner.
Mr Acquah indicated that cancer prevalence has steadily increased worldwide, with less developed countries being the most affected, and called on the Government to step up efforts at establishing more well- equipped centres for the diagnosis and treatment of cancers.
Mr Eric Addison, the President of the Ghana Society for Medical Physics, said in spite of the critical role that medical physicists played within the healthcare system, they had been relatively less visible to members of the public, compared to other health professionals.
He encouraged them to be active and engage in activities that would make them more visible in the healthcare system of the country.
He called on the Government to take urgent steps to properly place medical physicists in the health structure of Ghana and upgrade their salaries to make the profession more attractive to young scientists.
Mr Addison said the Ghana Society for Medical Physics has 84 members and six regional organisations.
The minimum requirement to qualify as a Medical Physicist is a Master of Science Degree in Medical Physics and a two-year clinical internship, he said, and encouraged more scientists to opt for such courses, to boost the human resource base.
Dr. Francis Hasford, the Head of the Medical Physics Department at the University of Ghana, School of Nuclear and Allied Sciences (SNAS), and also the Secretary General of the Federation of African Medical Physics Organizations (FAMPO), said professional education was paramount in the healthcare delivery system.
He said Ghana had been voted as the headquarters of the FAMPO, placing in her hands a more trusted role to lead Africa in the progress of Medical Physics for effective healthcare delivery.
Dr Elvis Tiburu, the Head of the Biomedical Engineering Department, University of Ghana, speaking on the critical role that medical instrumentation played in patient care and management, said he was worried about the current state of the equipment in the nation’s health facilities, most of which had broken down with little or no hope of securing their spare parts for repairs.
He encouraged the Government and other stakeholder agencies to support biomedical engineers and equip them to use locally available materials to fabricate some of the hospital equipment that were otherwise expensive to purchase from overseas.
He suggested a multi-disciplinary research study and engagement of experts in the procurement of medical equipment into the country’s hospitals.
Professor John H. Amuasi, who chaired the occasion, encouraged participants from the University of Ghana, the Kwame Nkrumah University of Science and Technology, and the Korle-Bu and Okomfo Anokye Teaching hospitals to take advantage of the platform to raise the needed awareness about Medical Physics in their communities.