Nuclear Medicine in the Philippines: A Glance at the Past, a Gaze at the Present, and a Glimpse of the Future

Document Type: History and perspective

Authors

1 Department of Nuclear Medicine & PET, St. Luke’s Medical Center, Bonifacio Global City, Taguig, Metro Manila, Philippines

2 Past President, Philippine Society of Nuclear Medicine; Former Dean, St. Luke’s College of Medicine – William H. Quasha Memorial; Former Dean, Asian School of Nuclear Medicine

10.7508/aojnmb.2016.02.009

Abstract

While the introduction of radioactive tracers in the study of metabolic pathways has been well-documented in clinical thyroidology as early as 1924, the widespread utilization in other clinical specialties has been hampered by slow developments in radiation-detecting devices and in the production of appropriate radiopharmaceuticals, in addition to
the morbid fear of radiation. In the Philippines, the first radioisotope laboratory was established in 1956. Ten years later, the Philippine Society of Nuclear Medicine was formed. Through the years, challenges were overcome, foundations were laid down, growth was encouraged, friendships with other organizations were built, adjustments were made, and rules were enforced. To date, there are approximately 58 nuclear medicine centers randomly distributed from north to south of
the Philippines, 7 accredited nuclear medicine training institutions, 95 board-certified nuclear medicine physicians (a few of whom are also internationally recognized), and a regionally-indexed Philippine Journal of Nuclear Medicine. Qualifying examinations for technologists were also recently instated. International relations are constantly strengthened
by sending trainees abroad and accepting foreign trainees here, as well as participating in conferences and other endeavors. While the cost of putting up nuclear medicine centers in the Philippines is still prohibitive, it should not pose too much of a constraint as there are foreign and local parties willing to help. With appropriate instrumentation, targeting
radiopharmaceuticals and trained human resources, nuclear medicine can indeed contribute much to health care delivery.

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