Australian Clinical Guidelines for Radiological Emergencies - September 2012

Specialist Advice

Page last updated: 07 December 2012

Australian WHO Collaborating Centre for Radiation Protection

The Australian Radiation Protection and Nuclear Safety Agency (ARPANSA) was designated a World Health Organization (WHO) Collaborating Centre for Radiation Protection in 1985, and redesignated in 2007 with new Terms of Reference for the Collaborating Centre. Under these terms of reference the Agency, jointly with the Peter MacCallum Cancer Centre (PMCC), participates as a member of the WHO Radiation Emergency Medical Preparedness and Assistance Network (REMPAN). The main roles of WHO REMPAN Collaborating Centres are summarised in ANNEX E.

The Terms of Reference for ARPANSA and PMCC as a WHO Collaborating Centre for Radiation Protection are to:
  • collaborate in programmes related to radiation protection and radiation health, including:
    • development of radiation protection standards and codes of practice for the safe and effective use of radiation
    • provision of technical advice and organisation of training in radiation health
    • dissemination of information on radiation health
  • participate (jointly with the Peter MacCallum Cancer Centre) as a member of the WHO Radiation Emergency Medical Preparedness and Assistance Network (REMPAN) by:
    • provision of medical assistance to exposed persons, both on-site and in specialised clinics
    • provision of consultation and technical advice on the public health and medical response to radiological emergencies or nuclear accidents
    • assisting WHO Member States in elaborating their plans for medical preparedness
    • promotion of training in developing countries in medical preparedness and first aid.
ARPANSA maintains an emergency response capability with field teams modelled along International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) standards. These include:
  • radiation source localisation, identification and recovery
  • analysis of measurements, modelling and advice
  • mapping of perimeter spread and sampling for laboratory analysis
  • radiation health support
ARPANSA supports Australian arrangements for the medical treatment of internal contamination. ARPANSA maintains a transportable lung monitoring system and is developing analysis methods for assisting in the treatment of individuals with internal contamination of radioactive material.

WHO Radiation Emergency Medical Preparedness and Assistance Network (REMPAN)

The specific role of WHO in the family of United Nations (UN) organizations is to address aspects directly relevant to the medical community and health authorities in the Member States. For the promotion of radiation emergency medical preparedness and for practical medical assistance and advice to countries in the case of overexposure from any source of radiation, WHO has established the Radiation Emergency Medical Preparedness and Assistance Network (REMPAN).

REMPAN was established to strengthen medical aspects of preparedness and response to radiological and nuclear emergencies in WHO Member States. Two types of actions are involved for major radiation accidents:
  • Medical – prevention, diagnosis, treatment and rehabilitation of acute radiation injuries in persons exposed to radiation at high doses
  • Public health – prevention or mitigation of stochastic effects from low doses of radiation (sheltering, iodine prophylaxis, evacuation, restrictions on consumption of certain foods (e.g. milk), minimization of psychological effects, etc.
Key objectives of REMPAN include:
  • Strengthening national, regional and global radiation emergency medical preparedness and assistance in order to recognize radiation injury and to treat and follow up on acutely exposed individuals.
  • Improving public health advice to mitigate possible long-term effects of exposure to low and protracted doses of radiation that might accrue in populations living in territories contaminated by radioactive materials.
  • Analysis of radiation emergencies and development of recommendations for long-term follow-up studies of health risks of radiation.
REMPAN has collaborating institutions worldwide. They include REMPAN Collaborating Centres (CCs) and Liaison Institutions (LIs) that are being considered for designation as a WHO CC in future.