HICARE to be designated an IAEA “collaborating centre,” strengthening cooperation in treating radiation victims

by Eriko Shintani, Staff Writer

It has been learned that the Hiroshima International Council for Health Care of the Radiation-exposed (HICARE) will be designated a “collaborating centre” of the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) in the near future. The IAEA and HICARE will cooperate in such areas as research and the training of human resources. The two organizations are expected to pursue joint research in the medical treatment of radiation victims and make shared efforts to dispatch specialists. HICARE is made up of 10 entities, including Hiroshima Prefecture, Hiroshima City, and Hiroshima University.

As a collaborating centre, HICARE will conduct training programs for doctors and researchers, and enhance information sharing, in line with its discussions with the IAEA. Though no financial assistance will be provided by the agency, the designation is considered international recognition of HICARE’s technical expertise and level of research. In addition, the IAEA network enables collaborating centres to strengthen their capacity to transmit information. This formal cooperation will be in effect for four years.

To date, 21 institutions in 20 countries, including China, Italy, and the United States, have been designated collaborating centres. South Korea has two such institutions, while other nations have one each. In Japan, the National Institute of Radiological Sciences, which is based in Chiba, was designated a collaborating centre in 2006.

In 2010, the IAEA and HICARE exchanged memorandums for a joint effort to provide medical care for the radiation-exposed. They have jointly held two workshops in Hiroshima to impart information necessary for medical treatment in such cases as nuclear power plant accidents. One student from Hiroshima University’s faculty of medicine was dispatched to the IAEA, located in Vienna, Austria, and served as an intern there for three months.

According to the HICARE secretariat, advantages of being recognized as a collaborating centre include: training programs, which have been conducted on a one-off basis, will be more thoroughly planned; and joint research projects will be devised based on a long-term vision, resulting in more substantial and fruitful research.

(Originally published on April 4, 2014)