There are huge healthcare disparities between high income countries and low-to-middle income countries. These disparities are especially manifested in the treatment -or lack thereof- of major diseases, especially cancer. It is now recognized that in the developing world, cancer kills more people than HIV/AIDS, tuberculosis and malaria combined. Yet the funding for the prevention and treatment of cancer is 2% of the total of the other diseases (Moten et al. J Global Health 4(1): 1-5; 2014). It is also recognized that the incidence of cancer in lower income settings is growing much more rapidly -almost double the rate- than in high income countries. Related to this are the dearth of resources for education and training of professionals associated with the treatment of these diseases including professionals connected with Medical Physics.
The International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA), in its Human Health Division, have major programs directed towards providing support and increasing capacity for radiation medicine, especially in low-to-middle income countries. Jacob (Jake) Van Dyk has served for the IAEA in various capacities, including consultancy in Vienna from 2009 to 2011. During that time he came into contact with Physicien Médical Sans Frontières, a French based organization with the goal of providing “missions of aid in support of cancer in developing countries”. However, they are not well known in the English speaking world. In contacting them about setting up an English speaking sister organization called MPWB, the response was more than positive and enthusiastic. As a follow-up to this, in 2011, during the Canadian Organization of Medical Physicists (COMP) Gold Medal award ceremony, Jake Van Dyk announced his interest in developing such an organization. The response to that announcement and to several informal meetings held at COMP and AAPM annual scientific meetings was more than enthusiastic. It was clear that there are many Medical Physicists eager to provide support to those in less advantaged circumstances, although it is not clear to them how they can get involved.
In December of 2014, a Steering Committee was developed to initiate the formalization of MPWB. The Steering Committee consisted of Jake Van Dyk (Chairman), Robert Jeraj, Ben Mijnheer, Yakov Pipman, Gerald White and David Wilkins. In June 2015, MPWB was formally incorporated in Canada and later in 2016 incorporated and registered in the State of Virginia in the United States of America. MPWB has also obtained official charitable status in both Canada and the United States.
A new Board for this organization began its formal functioning in July 2015 and consists of Jake Van Dyk (President), Yakov Pipman (Vice-President), Gerald White (Chairman of the Board), David Wilkins (Secretary/Treasurer), Parminder Basran (Director of Communications), and Robert Jeraj (Director of Fund Raising). For a list of the current board members, see here.