Ismail AbuAwwad 
Chief Medical Physicist, Augusta Victoria Hospital, Jerusalem
Chief PAMP

Medical Physics Status at Palestine

Palestine has limited access to resources when it comes to expanding the level of medical physics knowledge due to lack of funding and awareness of the necessity of this field. In Palestine, the estimated cancer incidence was 5320 cases in 2021. This is expected to increase to 7000 by 2030, where it is estimated that 60% of these cases will benefit from having radiation therapy.

The Cancer Care Center at Augusta Victoria Hospital (AVH), located in Jerusalem, is currently the only center offering radiation therapy services for all Palestinian People. The center started treating the first patient in August 2005 with one conventional simulator, and one linear accelerator. The staff comprised of one part time physician, two physicists and four radiation therapists. Currently, it has one CT simulator and three LINACs capable of producing 6, 10, 15 MV X-ray beams, and 6, 9, 12 MeV electron beams. In addition, some intensive work has been going to introduce brachytherapy services in the near future. The staff currently consists of 3 full time and 2 part time radiation oncologists, 5 medical physicists, and 18 radiation therapy technologists. Currently, AVH radiotherapy unit treats about 150 patients daily. During the past six years approximately 9,200 individuals in Palestine received radiotherapy at AVH, either curative or palliative.

Currently, the unit is integrating many different imaging modalities – such as CT, MRI, and PET in external radiotherapy treatment.

It is worth mentioning, that there are only 15 medical physicists in Palestine (West Bank and Gaza) of which 5 of them are working at AVH. The other 10 medical physicists are working on diagnostic areas related to medical physics.

In order to increase the level of medical physics knowledge in Palestine, and to have more graduates in that field, the Hebron University introduced a Bachelor of Science Degree in Medical Physics in 2019. Palestine as a member of Middle East Federation of Medical Physics (MEFOMP) receives some funds to support Palestinian medical physicists in order to attend training schools and workshops in several areas of medical physics.

The main role of medical physicists at the Ministry of Health is to read the personal dosimeters (TLDs) for the radiation workers. Our goal is to raise awareness and education for medical physicists to include diagnostic as well as therapeutic and nuclear medicine applications of radiation. In addition, we aim to educate the decision makers about the importance of such a field and profession so that there are better monitoring and better level of care given to both workers and patients.