Emerging groups work to fill void in education

March 27, 2003

The closure of the Nycomed Amersham Intercontinental Continuing Education in Radiology (NICER) Institute at the end of last year was a blow to training in the Asia-Pacific region. Formed in 1991, the Norway-based group organized 50 courses in 22

The closure of the Nycomed Amersham Intercontinental Continuing Education in Radiology (NICER) Institute at the end of last year was a blow to training in the Asia-Pacific region. Formed in 1991, the Norway-based group organized 50 courses in 22 countries. NICER was particularly active in China and India, and, significantly, its 10th anniversary symposium took place on the opening day of the 9th Asian Oceanian Congress of Radiology (AOCR) in Singapore last July.

The institute's prime objective was to reach average working radiologists. Several hundred people often attended the courses because the registration fee was set at an affordable local rate, as low as US$10 in India. International experts gave lectures that were free from product marketing.

National, regional, and specialist societies now face the challenge of filling the gap left by NICER's demise. The Asian and Oceanian Society of Radiology (AOSR) is doing its best: It has increased the frequency of the AOCR from once every three years to every two years and has opted for a semipermanent venue in Singapore. The AOSR has also supported the Asian-Oceanian Seminars on Diagnostic and Interventional Radiology (ASDIR) since 1996. ASDIR's first Asian Course on Management in Radiology, to be held in Shanghai on 3-4 August 2002, is an example of its pioneering approach.

The ASEAN Association of Radiology (AAR) is another progressive group; you can read about its activities in this edition of DI Asia Pacific (see "Society places emphasis on high-quality training," page 27). Also worth noting are more focused meetings, such as the 4th Asian-Pacific Congress of Cardiovascular and Interventional Radiology, scheduled for 9-12 September in Beijing.

Devising and organizing programs that provide attendees with a basic level of education remains the urgent priority for radiologists in the Asia-Pacific region. Enormous gaps in knowledge and resources persist, and those who practice in rural areas are stretched to the limit, with little or no access to training programs. A central dilemma, though, is how best to deliver training.

"You shouldn't take people from a remote area to top hospitals in the West and have them trained there," said Dr. Harald Ostensen, the World Health Organization's coordinator of diagnostic imaging and the founder of NICER. "When-and if-they return home, they will be completely frustrated. The central aim is to train the trainers."

WHO is setting up regional centers of excellence to take doctors in, rather than sending them to institutions in the developed world. At present, the organization is concentrating its efforts in Africa, but Ostensen hopes eventually to extend the concept to Asia-Pacific countries. In the meantime, much of radiology's future depends on the success of the AOSR, AAR, and others. They need and deserve your support, encouragement, and involvement.