Page 0050

SPONSORED FEATURE: VARIAN MEDICAL SYSTEMS

48 CANCER CONTROL 2015

B

y 2050, the global cancer burden is expected to grow

to 27 million new cancer cases and 17.5 million

cancer deaths per year, according to the American

Cancer Society. There is a stark inequality in access to

radiotherapy treatments depending where in the world you

live. Whereas the United States has roughly 12 medical

linear accelerators per million population and most

developed European countries have between 5 and 8

machines per million, developing countries in Asia, Africa

and Latin America have far fewer than one machine per

million. Conservative estimates suggest the world needs up

to 10,000 more treatment machines to even start bridging

this gap, in effect nearly doubling the number of machines

installed globally today.

But even if this level of investment were feasible, there are

nowhere near enough qualified staff to operate the new

machines. This is why Varian Medical Systems, the world

leader in radiotherapy equipment and software, have

developed the Access to Care programme to help facilitate

the training of doctors, technicians and medical physicists to

begin clinical work.

"We started to develop this concept three years ago

because of the vital need to educate the market and we spent

the first year speaking to people across the developing world

and discovering their needs," says Jon Hollon, Senior Director,

Worldwide Training and Education. "The programme has

been designed to bridge the education gaps that may exist in

a particular region and by doing so enabling the safe, effective

and efficient clinical operation of radiotherapy equipment."

Access to Care is based around three core elements: a

distance learning programme, offering students a dynamic

and innovative platform to access academic content; access

to global clinical expertise via Varian's Network of Experts;

and clinical exposure for students at a one of Varian's

Network of Experts partner sites.

Varian has established in-house training and education

centres to provide training on the safe and effective use of its

products in the United States, China, Switzerland, India,

Japan, France and Russia. The company delivers 4,000

training events annually and globally has 120 applications

specialists and an 80-strong clinical helpdesk to help guide

students through the learning process.

Access to Care in action

An early Access to Care project is taking place in Iraq, where

direct on-site training is challenging due to travel restrictions.

To compensate for this, Varian has developed educational

modules specifically for customers in Iraq. The need for such

a programme became greater when Varian donated a

treatment machine to the Basra Children's Hospital as part of

the charitable Project Hope.

When this hospital opened its doors on 26 October 2010, it

represented the culmination of a seven year dream by Project

HOPE, the United States government, former First Lady

Laura Bush and the Iraqi government to provide the nation's

children with a modern, tertiary care, referral paediatric

cancer specialty hospital. For advanced radiotherapy

treatments, patients are treated using a modern linear

accelerator donated to the project by Varian.

Childhood cancers are eight to ten times more common in

Iraq than in developed countries, with a particularly high

prevalence of brain tumours, lymphoma and leukaemia. To

help with advanced cancer treatments, Varian donated a

Clinac® iX linear accelerator for treatments and a simulator

for planning and verifying treatments.

"We envisioned a new hospital with modern equipment and

well-trained clinical staff," says Project Hope CEO Dr John P

Howe III. "The Iraqi population is very youthful - children

represent over a half of the total population - and the country's

ministry of health is trying to provide quality care for more than

a million children in southern Iraq and Basra, the country's

second largest city. The donation from Varian represents a

tremendous gift to the children of Iraq and it gives them a

chance to be healthy future leaders of their country."

As part of the Access to Care programme, staff at the Basra

Children's Hospital and other Varian customers in Iraq will

BRIDGING THE RADIOTHERAPY EDUCATION GAP

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