Ionizing radiation

Medical radiation exposure

WHO Global Initiative on Radiation Safety in Health Care Settings

The use of radiation in medicine has led to major improvements in the diagnosis and treatment of human diseases. Annually, worldwide, more than 3,600 million X-ray examinations are performed, 37 million nuclear medicine procedures are carried out, and 7.5 million radiotherapy treatments are given. As the benefits for patients gain recognition, the use of radiation in medicine increases. While the development of modern health technology makes new applications safer, their inappropriate use can lead to unnecessary or unintended radiation doses, and can cause potential health hazards for patients and staff.

International Day of Medical Physics: 7th November 2014

International Radiology Day - World Radiography Day: 8th November 2014

The World Health Organization congratulates all medical physicists, radiologists and radiographers and encourages health professionals using radiation in health care to continually improve safety and quality, to foster excellence in health care services.

WHO is conducting a Global Initiative on Radiation Safety in Health Care Settings to mobilize the health sector towards safe and effective use of radiation in medicine. Focusing on public health aspects related to the risks and benefits of the use of radiation in medicine, this initiative includes activities in the areas of radiation risk assessment, management and communication.

Health professionals generally have a low awareness of radiation doses in radiological medical procedures as well as of the nature and magnitude of the related radiation risks. An area of special concern is the unnecessary use of radiation when clinical evaluation or other imaging modalities could provide an accurate diagnosis. Justification of procedures is particularly critical in paediatric health care. Children are especially vulnerable to environmental threats and have a longer life-span to develop long-term radiation-induced health effects like cancer.

WHO Global Initiative on Radiation Safety in Health Care Settings



Related links

  • Workshop: Radiation risk communication in paediatric imaging - Report
    pdf, 728kb

    Justification of radiological medical procedures is particularly critical in paediatric health care. Support to health professionals, patients, and families to make informed decisions includes tools for radiation risk communication. Building on the outcome of a workshop held in 2010, WHO hosted an International Workshop on Radiation Risk Communication in Paediatric Imaging on 2nd December 2012 in Bonn, Germany.