SA’s health sector most trusted to work with in Africa – Russia

South Africa was the most trusted country to work with when it came to nuclear health provision.

These were the sentiments of Russian government-owned Rosatom Health Tech general doctor, Igor Obrubob, during an interview this week.

“We know that you [South Africa] are one of the most trustworthy countries on the continent, and other countries trust you,” said Obrubob.

“Because of this, we would like to share our competencies and our technologies with you in order to deepen our cooperation in this sphere of healthcare.”

Obrubob stated that Russia had good relations with South Africa, and the country has for a long time been part of the club of those with nuclear technologies.

“Nowadays, we know that South Africa is one of the main exporters of radioactive pharmaceuticals in this sphere of diagnosis, especially for the African continent, and evidently, we understand that we have a lot of common interest in the development of this sphere,” he said.

AtomExpo 2024

Obrubob pointed out that Russia had a huge interest in the cooperation of pharmaceuticals with South Africa.

He stated that his country has a long history of medicine education, and that Russia prides itself on training medical students across Africa.

Obrubob said this as the importance of supplying nuclear medicine and health equipment to developing countries came into sharp focus at the AtomExpo 2024 in Sochi, Russia, this week.

Rosatom is hosting thousands of delegates from Africa, Europe, Asia and South America in the holiday resort city to discuss the future of nuclear energy and the opportunities it presents for both supplier and consumer countries.

Obrubob said that though there were healthcare disparities in Africa, they were felt across many parts of the world.

Nuclear medicine and equipment are used to treat chronic ailments, including cancer and respiratory diseases, across the world.

Kalumba Shangula, the Minister of Health in Namibia, said the utilisation of nuclear medicine in Africa was constrained by costs.

The use of nuclear medicine is limited

“In a developing country, the use of nuclear medicine is limited in the sense that access to the technology is not widespread,” Shangula said.

“And also, the cost associated with the acquisition of nuclear technology for application in the health sector … is also limited.

“Therefore, unless we popularise the use, I think it calls for partnership and technology transfer between the developed countries and the developing countries.

“Concomitant with that is also the fact that for one to also apply and make use of nuclear technology, you need a human resource that has been trained, is competent, and is able to apply the technology for the benefit of the population.”

He stated that nuclear health training institutions were also limited in developing countries. “This will mean that one has to source training elsewhere at a huge cost.

Cost is a determining component

“The cost, in a developing country, is a major determining component because there are so many competing priorities.

“There are so many challenges needing to be addressed, and there are also limited financial resources.

“Sometimes our countries find themselves in a debt trap. One has to balance whether to send people for further training, whether to try to service the debt, or whether to try to address some of the pressures of social challenges within the population.

“Yes, this technology is available, but it is not accessible to all, and this calls for a smart partnership and collaboration that will enable countries that have the means to help … countries that do not have the means.”

We all need each other

Shangula explained further: “We have seen that during the Covid-19 pandemic, there was a saying that you are only safe if the other person is safe, and I think this is also true when it comes to other conditions.

“If one country is well and the other country is not well during this time, it means that nobody is actually well, and this calls for partnerships and collaborations and also to reach out to those who need this technology the most.

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