Although alternatives are increasingly used, nuclear medicine remains an integral and important part of medical practice in Australia, aiding in the diagnosis (and to a lesser extent, treatment) of many Australians every day.
The challenge recognised by MAPW is how to secure the isotopes (radioactive materials) needed for nuclear medicine while avoiding or reducing the hazards associated with their traditional source - nuclear reactors.
As health professionals, we must be prepared to address all the wider health and other ramifications of the proceedures we employ. In the context of nuclear medicine, we encourage examination and debate of these issues within the medical profession, the public and our parliaments, and an open exploration of techniques that do not rely on radioisotopes.
Nuclear medicine is often used to build community support for the nuclear industry. MAPW has prepared factual materials to explain nuclear medicine, and to explain why it cannot be used to justify a new nuclear waste dump or a nuclear reactor in Australia. (See links to our fact sheets below)
MAPW has actively raised the proliferation risks associated with nuclear medicine. To abolish the threat of nuclear war, as well as eliminating nuclear weapons we must access to fissile materials which provide their fuel. According to MAPW members Dr Bill Williams and A/Prof Tilman Ruff (2007: see link below): "The near-universal use of weapons-grade, highly enriched uranium (HEU) to produce pharmaceuticals is a significant proliferation hazard [and] one of the most vulnerable pathways to the much-feared 'terrorist bomb'."
- MAPW Fact Sheet explaining nuclear medicine
- MAPW Fact Sheet on highly enriched uranium
- Draft policy for professional organisations, on highly enriched uranium
- A New Clear Direction: Securing Nuclear Medicine for the Next Generation - MAPW report on Australia's Lucas Heights nuclear reactor, 2004