PAHO's radiological health program has been in existence for nearly half a century. The program has focused on specific issues in keeping with the times, as well as on the priorities of PAHO's Member States. The latter have had at their disposal the most current scientific and professional knowledge and advice available, as well as a steady partner for continuously improving their national institutions.

The PAHO Radiological Health Unit was established in 1960 for the purpose of promoting the role of the public health authorities in the field of applied nuclear energy. It consisted of two professionals and a secretary. The Unit Chief was the Regional Radiological Health Advisor (Irvin Lourie), who was supported by a Health Physicist (Thomas Shea), the Specialized Technical Advisor. As quoted from the PAHO Director's Annual Report for 1960, "The program of the unit will be directed in the near future along the following four main lines:

  • Stimulating national health services to develop procedures for the regulations governing the use of X-rays and radioisotopes and the disposal of radioactive wastes, based on the recommendations of the International Commission on Radiological Protection.
  • Promoting the teaching of basic health physics and radiological protection in schools of medicine, dentistry, public health, veterinary medicine, etc.
  • Fostering the use of radioisotopes for medical diagnosis, therapy, and research.
  • Encouraging research on applications of radiation that may be of importance to medicine, public health, or veterinary medicine."

As new discoveries and new challenges appear, the most important needs envisaged for the immediate future are as follows: education and training in evaluating, incorporating, and utilizing new technologies; support for strengthening radiological diagnostic and therapeutic services; support for research on analyzing and evaluating outcomes; implementing ways to safeguard patients and staff, including strengthening regulations; and improving the capacity to respond to radiological and nuclear emergencies.With the continuing confidence and support of PAHO's Member States, the PAHO Radiological Health Program is expected to continue to respond to their needs.

  pdf  History of the Radiological Health Program the Pan American Health Organization: 1960-2006 (2.13 MB)  

Table of contents:

Introductrion 1959-1975, PASB Director Abraham Horwitz

  • 1975-1983, PASB Director Hector Acuña
  • 1983-1994, PASB Director Carlyle Guerra de Macedo
  • 1995-2003, PASB Director Sir George A.O. Alleyne 2003 TO 2006, PASB Directora Mirta Roses Periago
  • Conclusions
  • Sinopsis
  • References


A summarized version of this article is available at the PAHO Journal: Hanson G, Borrás C, Jiménez P. History of the radiological health program of the Pan American Health Organization. Pan Am J Public Health. 2006; 20 (2/3): 87-98.