From left to right: Phumzile Tshelane, Necsa chief executive; Dr Kelvin Kemm, Chairman of Necsa; and Denis Cherednichenko, director general of Rusatom Healthcare, at the signing ceremony of cooperative agreement between South Africa and Russia to develop two small reactors for nuclear medicine in the fight against cancer. Picture: Supplied

Johannesburg - The South African Nuclear Energy Corporation (Necsa) and Russian state-owned nuclear corporation, Rusatom, on Thursday signed a R1.4 billion cooperative agreement to develop two small reactors for nuclear medicine in the fight against cancer.

Phumzile Tshelane, Necsa chief executive, emphasised that these reactors were for the production of nuclear medicine, not the generation of power. 

Tshelane said that early detection of cancer allows for the costs for treatment to be brought down, adding that Necsa supplies close to 28 per cent of the world's medical isotopes, which is used in the detection of cancer.

"Nuclear medicine is the most effective method in the early detection of cancer. The earlier cancer is detected the more likely it is to respond positively to treatment and this generally results in a greater probability of recovery," Tshelane said at the signing ceremony on the sidelines of the 10th BRICS Summit.

Denis Cherednichenko, director general of Rusatom Healthcare, said that both parties have a great deal of expertise in this sector.

"We believe that a combined effort will open up new markets and hasten new technological advancements in the sector," he said. "Nuclear medicine is rapidly expanding globally and plays a vitally important role in the early detection of cancers and other non-communicable diseases."

African News Agency (ANA)