BRICS Health Ministers agree on formation of a Nuclear Medicine Working Group

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Health Ministers of BRICS (Brazil, Russia, India, China, South Africa) countries at their meeting in Durban, South Africa, earlier this month agreed on the formation of a Nuclear Medicine Working Group of the grouping members, according to an official statement issued following the meeting.  

The ministers also agreed on the formation of a BRICS Countries Conference in Nuclear Medicine to enhance execution of related activities by member states.  

“BRICS countries currently have varying degrees of nuclear medicine capabilities and recognize that collaboration will enhance and accelerate further development for each of these countries. Member states agree on the formation of a Nuclear Medicine Working Group, and BRICS Countries Conference in Nuclear Medicine to enhance execution of related activities by member states,” the statement said.  

“BRICS countries agree on close collaboration in areas such as Knowledge sharing in Nuclear Medicine applications in clinical settings, Research and surveillance, Production of radiopharmaceuticals and related medical devices,” it added.  

The statement also said that BRICS member states should collaborate to strengthen health systems and to “build back better” as they evaluate the midpoint of assessment of progress towards the UN set goal of Universal Health Coverage (UHC) 2030.   

“A common BRICS platform can be considered for developing indicators to track progress in improving the health of the BRICS population and in pursuit of SDG UHC Indicator 3.8,” the statement said.  

In this connection, the International BRICS Expert Forum on Nuclear Medicine was held in the Russian capital Moscow last month. 

The Forum brought together more than 200 representatives from the BRICS nations The Forum was jointly organised by Russia’s Ministry of Health and the Russian state atomic energy corporation Rosatom. 

The event was attended by the heads and leading scientists of the largest research medical centres, manufacturers of medical radioisotopes and radiopharmaceuticals from the BRICS countries, and representatives of state authorities in manufacturing radioisotope products for health care. 

They included the Brazilian Nuclear Energy Research Institute (IPEN); Indian Board of Radiation and Isotope Technology (BRIT) and the Bhabha Atomic Research Centre (BARC), NTP Radioisotopes SOC Ltd. (South Africa), iThemba LABS (South Africa), China Isotope and Radiation Corporation (CIRC), Brazilian Society of Nuclear Medicine and Molecular Imaging, Society of Nuclear Medicine of India, Chinese Society of Nuclear Medicine (CSNM), and South African Society of Nuclear Medicine (SASNM). 

The Expert Forum provides a venue for specialists from BRICS countries to exchange their experience in nuclear medicine, including in the use of advanced scientific developments in radionuclide diagnostics and therapy of socially significant diseases. 

Its key task is to discuss the development and manufacturing of medical devices, innovative radiopharmaceutical drugs, and the training of highly qualified personnel. With the shared goal of enhancing citizens’ quality of life and increasing life expectancy, the forum serves as a vital platform to streamline cooperation and advancements in nuclear medicine across BRICS nations. 

During the event, participants discussed ways to establish the BRICS Nuclear Medicine Working Group. They also explored creating a professional communication platform to implement advanced technology in nuclear medicine. Developing a national and international legal framework for the seamless transportation of radiopharmaceuticals and medical devices containing radionuclides was also a significant item on the agenda. 

In his address, the Russian Health Minister Mikhail Murashko emphasized the importance of nuclear medicine in modern healthcare. As one of the largest suppliers of radiopharmaceuticals, Russia is keen on consolidating efforts to implement nuclear medicine advancements in practical healthcare across BRICS countries, he said. He also underlined the need for greater interaction between medical centers specializing in oncological, cardiological, endocrine, and other diseases, where nuclear medicine plays a crucial role. 

Rosatom subsidiary Rusatom Healthcare Director General Igor Obrubov expressed his commitment to developing medical nuclear technology as a strategic activity area. He emphasised the significance of collaborative projects with friendly nations to advance nuclear medical technology for the betterment of global healthcare. 

During a press briefing, President of the Brazilian Society of Nuclear Medicine and Molecular Imaging, Rafael Lopez, lauded nuclear medicine as a driving force in innovative technology for increasing life expectancy. He stressed the importance of international cooperation to develop these technologies, capitalising on the advanced experiences of the BRICS countries. 

The Expert Forum was also addressed by the Indian Ambassador to Russia, Pavan Kapoor, who highlighted the importance of collaboration to deal with common healthcare challenges.