Radiation therapist research in Africa: overcoming the barriers to reap the rewards

11 Jun 2020

Radiation therapy is recognised throughout the world as an essential modality in the treatment of many malignant diseases. A quality treatment process requires highly competent health care profes- sionals and high-technology equipment. In the majority of countries in Africa there is a desperate need for equipment and skilled therapists and in many countries there is no access to radiation therapy to relieve the suffering of cancer patients. As a region, Africa can therefore be considered as ?under resourced? in terms of radiation oncology services. In this context both service and research are challenged by a lack of equipment, poor maintenance, inadequate funding, inconsistent consumable supplies, a scarcity of competent professionals to ensure optimal use of what is available and excessive workload. Africa therefore has many examples of the situation, where low-income countries generally have a poor research infrastructure. Radiation therapist (RTT) research in Africa has to develop where the barriers to research can in most instances be traced back to a lack of resources and any initiatives to overcome these barriers are frequently blocked by the limitations of a resource-poor environment. To locate the discussion on the research environment of RTTs in Africa, barriers to and benefits of research are integrated with brief information under the following headings: the macro environment, the RTT environment and the RTT research environment. The latter includes insights from interviews and dis- cussions covering the following topics: research now, research priorities, research opportunities and strategies for future research.