Ionizing radiation

WHO's role in radiation accidents and emergencies

In addition to the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) and WHO, the key international partners cooperating in this response are: the Food and Agricultural Organization (FAO), the Nuclear Energy Agency (NEA) of the Organization on Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD), the United Nations Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (UN OCHA), and the World Meteorological Organization (WMO).

WHO is a full party to the Conventions on Early Notification of a Nuclear Accident (Early Notification Convention) and Assistance in the Case of a Nuclear Accident or Radiological Emergency (Assistance Convention), for which the IAEA is the focal point. These Conventions provide the prime legal instruments that establish an international framework to facilitate exchange of information and the prompt provision of assistance in the event of radiation accidents, with the aim of minimizing the health consequences.

WHO works closely with IAEA to prepare for and respond to nuclear accidents and radiological emergencies, principally to provide, coordinate and consult medical assistance to victims of such events where severe radiation exposure has occurred. Advice can also be provided to national authorities on how to prepare and respond to such radiation accidents, or what kind of public health actions may be needed.

Emergency medical support for radiation exposed individuals is provided through WHO's Radiation Emergency Medical Preparedness and Assistance Network (REMPAN). This is activated following notification about a radiaion accident with causalties (but even in case of a single victim with severe overexposure) from the IAEA or directly to WHO.

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