Korea Emerging As Country Leading International Nuclear Medical Circle
Korea Emerging As Country Leading International Nuclear Medical Circle
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  • 승인 2006.10.01 12:01
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Cover Story / The 9th Congress of the WFNMB The 9th Congress of the World Federation of Nuclear Medicine & Biology (WFNMB) will be held at Convention & Exhibition Center (COEX) in Samseong-dong, Seoul on Oct. 22-27.

It is the biggest medical academic congress in Korea in terms of a single clinical department. Under the main theme of the "Global harmonization and new horizons of world's nuclear medicine," some 3,000 nuclear medicine-related scholars, businessmen and officials from a total of 70 countries including Japan, the U.S. and China will participate in the international event. In particular, about 200 distinguished scholars in the world are scheduled to make presentations at the event, making the medical congress the place of exchanging information on nuclear medicine, said Lee Myung-chul, M.D. Professor at Seoul National University, College of Medicine Department of Nuclear Medicine, and President of the WFNMB. Lee plans to enhance the degree of recognition about nuclear medicine and herald Korea's development status of nuclear medicine to the world through the international event. Not only president Lee, but also several prominent medical doctors such as Chung Soo-kyo(Chairman of Congress Organizing Committee), Chung Junekey( Secretary General), Kim Chong-soon(Secretary General), Lee Jong-doo (Treasurer) and Kim Byungtae( Chairman of Scientific Committee) are preparing for this conference. Korea's Nuclear Medicine status Nuclear medicine refers to the professional field of diagnosing and treating diseases by making the use of radioactive isotopes. Korea introduced a medical specialist system in nuclear medicine 11 years ago. At present, some 130 medical institutions offer nuclear medicine examination and treatment services. It was around 1961 when radioactive isotopes were used for medical science for the first time. Currently, radioactive isotopes are being used at all clinical departments, including internal medicine, surgery and pediatrics. Diagnosis and inspection by nuclear medicine has merits such as no danger and pain for patients and a relatively short time required. Until recently, nuclear medicine took a minor position in Korea and the degree of its recognition was very low. However, nuclear medicine has been expanding its scope for treatment gradually. In particular, as the supply ratio of PET equipment in Korea is going up these days, the application ratio for majoring in nuclear medicine is also rising. Despite its poor study environment compared with advanced countries, Korea ranked 4th in the world by presenting more than 100 papers annually. It is emerging as a country leading the international nuclear medicine circle. Until recently, WFNMB has focused on successful academic events. However, since Professor Lee Myung-chul of Seoul National University took office as the President of the WFNMB, the Federation has placed focus on academic events and promotion & global marketing in a ratio of 50:50. President Lee has started to operate the Federation with the emphasis on global strategy, heralding and developing nuclear medicine technology to the world. Lee said, "In fact, about 80 percent of the WFNMB member countries are low or middle developing countries. Accordingly, the purpose of the Federation is to introduce advanced technology to such countries and help them build infrastructure as a means of enhancing the development level of nuclear medicine. Our target is to share information and open the chapter of dialogue in order to grow up all together." Since September 2000 when it was selected as a host country of the WFNMB general meting held in France, Korea has participated in many activities. So far, Korea has produced a total of 180 specialists in nuclear medicine. In keeping with the active installation of PET/CT equipment, the application ratio for majoring in nuclear medicine has been on an upward trend. Korea has been exerting doubled efforts for the development of nuclear medicine. It has held the China-Japan-Korea Nuclear Medicine Conference (CJK Conference) biannually. Since August 1984 when the 3rd Asia-Oceania Congress of Nuclear Medicine was held in Seoul, Korea has engaged in international activities aggressively. The world's nuclear medicine requires supports by government and businessmen specially. Accordingly, advanced countries are enjoying rapid development in nuclear medicine, but low and middle developing countries are facing difficulties even in carrying out programs for the development of nuclear medicine. As a host country, Korea has been doing everything it can to rectify such a bipolarization phenomenon. In particular, Korea has seen a remarkable development in the technology sector of nuclear medicine. For instance, about 60 hospitals in Korea have been pushing for study on cyclotron as the benefits of cyclotron have been widely known. Many people have confidence that nuclear medicine will become an essential technology in the future in the health care field. Such a technology will be used for diagnosing many diseases at an early stage. In Korea and many foreign countries, a number of scholars issued many papers related to nuclear medicine. Although cyclotron is an expensive technology, the study on this can shorten the management treatment modality by more than 40 percent. So, its ripple effect will be great, Lee said. In fact, nuclear medicine is a minor department in general. And, as the study environment for it is very poor, the preference for nuclear medicine is not higher than that for other medical departments. However, the popularity for nuclear medicine is growing and its preference is going up these days. Moreover, Korea seems to have a tendency of following the trends of Japan. In Japan, 140 PET image center clinics are operating as a business, establishing a new medicine arena carrying a new concept. Taking this into account, Korea will see a remarkable development in nuclear medicine in the near future, said Lee. Korea made a nuclear cooperative agreement pact with the U.S. in 1956 for the first time. At that time, a nuclear energy-related department was established under the Ministry of Education as the first government agency.

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