WHO: Decades of service of Ukrainian researchers in radiation medicine

WHO recognizes decades of service of Ukrainian researchers in radiation medicine.

At WHO’s 74th World Health Assembly (28.05.2021) the National Research Center for Radiation Medicine of the National Academy of Medical Sciences of Ukraine (NRCRM) was  awarded the 2021 Dr Lee Jong-wook Memorial Prize for Public Health.

  • The Dr LEE Jong-wook Memorial Prize for Public Health was established in 2008, and is awarded to individuals, institutions, and governmental or nongovernmental organizations who have made an outstanding contribution to public health.
  • The Prize aims at rewarding work that has extended far beyond the call of normal duties, and it is not intended as a reward for excellent performance of duties normally expected of an official position of a governmental or intergovernmental institution.
  • The prize is awarded once a year, and consists of a plaque from the Founder and a sum of money which will not exceed US$ 100 000. It will be presented at a special ceremony during the World Health Assembly.
  • Any national health administration of a Member State of the World Health Organization, or any former recipient of the Prize, may put forward the name of a candidate for the Prize. Proposals are made to the Director-General, who submits them to the Prize Selection Panel. The Prize Selection Panel recommends candidates to the Executive Board, which designates the recipient (or recipients) of the Prize.

WHO: Following the Chernobyl disaster, the NRCRM has worked closely with WHO and other partners to understand and mitigate the impact on human and environmental health.This award honours over 30 years of work in this area.

In this context  paying  tribute  to our  scientists and researchers   today  on our website iskova.news  we publish  the  full story  which was  presented on the WHO website  earlier this year.

The Chernobyl nuclear disaster of April 1986 resulted in an unprecedented release of radioactive material. Making headlines around the world, this tragically cost the lives of many of those who responded to the incident and lived in the surrounding area. In the decades since, there has been a rapid increase in the number of people who have had diseases and disabilities linked to the accident, with health impact reverberating years on.

A less known aspect of what has happened since is the work undertaken by health workers, such as those at the National Research Center for Radiation Medicine of the National Academy of Medical Sciences of Ukraine (NRCRM). For 30 years now, this institution leads Ukrainian research and practice in radiation medicine, biology, and hygiene, including evaluating the high- and low-dose health effects of Chernobyl accident.

The work of the institute is honoured with the 2021 Dr LEE Jong-wook Memorial Prize for Public Health prize, presented at the Seventy-fourth World Health Assembly.

35 years

“On behalf of the entire NRCRM staff, I would like to express our deepest gratitude and appreciation for awarding us this honorary Prize. It is, indeed, an important event not only for NRCRM, but also for the Ukrainian health sector, as this is the first time that the country has received an award such as this”, said Professor Dimitry Bazyka, Director-General of the NRCRM.

Prof. Dimitry Bazyka and other person at the Chernobyl Nuclear Power Plant wearing helmets.
Prof. Dimitry Bazyka, participating in experimental studies at the Chernobyl Nuclear Power Plant, Chernobyl Zone, Ukraine. Credit: Nataliia Korol

“Receiving this award in 2021 is even more precious as this global recognition coincides with the 35th anniversary of the Chernobyl disaster, an unprecedented radioactive release in the history of the nuclear industry, causing deaths and enormous mitigation efforts. Over these years, NRCRM has played a leading role in both scientific and practical issues to minimize its health effects.

“Our mission is to continue, as questions still remain regarding the real impact, including environmental consequences, health effects, and psychosocial impact.”

Sharing expertise

Woman conducting dosimetry of internal radiation of firefighters.
Dosimetry carried out at the Center’s Whole Body Counter Laboratory – assessing the internal ionizing radiation dose of firefighters. Credit: Nataliia Korol

There are various projects Professor Bazyka and his team are proud of. They appreciate the opportunity of working together with international organizations, including WHO, IARC, IAEA, and UNSCEAR, and other radiation research stakeholders from around the world. This includes work with the United States National Cancer Institute to better understand the risks of leukemia and thyroid cancer among Chernobyl clean-up workers, and collaboration with scientists from the Nagasaki University in Japan to identify statistically significant increases in the rates of acute leukemia.

Supporting the pandemic response

During the COVID-19 pandemic, the NRCRM has been supporting the healthcare system, treating patients with acute cardiovascular, cerebrovascular and other diseases to allow other hospitals to treat COVID-19 patients. In April 2021, the Centre opened a special COVID-19 department with 60 beds.

WHO collaboration is of critical importance

The NRCRM has worked closely with WHO, becoming a WHO Collaborating Centre (CC) of WHO’s Radiation Emergency Medical Preparedness and Assistance Network (WHO REMPAN) in 1998. In this capacity, the CC conducts epidemiological monitoring, medical follow-up for affected groups, and studies to better understand the health impact of the disaster. This cooperation has spanned decades, working together to mitigate the impact of the Chernobyl disaster as well as sharing expertise and lessons of Chernobyl with the global expert community.

“We value the dedication and support of all Collaborating Centers contributing to the WHO Radiation and Health Unit’s activities, especially the Centers with decades-long history such is the NRCMC in Kiev, Ukraine” – said Dr Maria Neira, Director of the Department of Environment, Climate Change and Health at the WHO Headquarters.

Laboratory personnel discussing leukemia phenotype studies.
Leukemia phenotype studies at the NRCRM Department of Clinical Immunology. Credit: Nataliia KorolCooperation stemmed from an initial five-year International Project on Health Effects of the Chernobyl Accident (IPHECA), established in 1991 between the WHO and three Chernobyl-affected states (Belarus, Ukraine and the Russian Federation), to better understand priority health problems which identified an increase of thyroid cancer cases in children who were exposed to radioactive iodine fallout in the first months after Chernobyl accident, and over decades that followed conducted numerous studies which critically assessed the impact of the Chernobyl nuclear disaster on environmental and human health as well as broader society.

Today, the NRCRM staff continue to carry out annual check-ups of employees within the Chernobyl exclusion zone, involved in the construction of the New Safe Confinement. WHO’s Country Office supports  national capacity building among health care providers.

Dr Jarno Habicht, WHO Representative and Head of the Country Office in Ukraine said: “The devastating impact of the Chernobyl nuclear accident will be with us for generations – yet NRCRM have helped mitigate the worst effects. WHO thanks them for the collaboration and looks forward to continuing our work together. The Dr Lee Jong-wook Memorial Prize is hard-earned and well deserved.”

Dr Hans Henri P. Kluge, WHO Regional Director for Europe, also congratulated the NRCRM for their tireless work over the past 23 years. “Collaboration across borders – coupled with local knowledge of situations – is vital to emergency responses. Their work has shown the importance of cooperation when humanity is faced with a threat to health that can have an impact over decades”, said Dr Kluge.

Triple billion goals

Threats to health come in many forms and ensuring people are better protected from health emergencies are central pillars of the General Programme of Work (GPW13) and the European Programme of Work 2020-2025, “United Action for Better Health”. Partnerships with organizations such as NRCMR are central to achieving the goals of saving lives, protecting health and serving the vulnerable.


Source: WHO website, 28 May 2021

Nataliya Iskova

Last Updated on 31.10.2021 by iskova

Добавить комментарий