“For the African continent, it is so important for us to grow in number with the right skills and knowledge and be able to adopt technology and make it work for us. Or better still create technology for ourselves”
Your full name please
Mulape Mutule Kanduza
How would you define Medical Physics?
It’s the application of physics principles in medicine for better diagnostic and treatment outcomes. It encompasses the continuum of care in patient management.
Where do you work?
University Teaching Hospitals – Cancer Diseases Hospital, Lusaka, Zambia. I head the Medical Physics unit.
What other positions do you hold?
I am a member of the FAMPO council, I serve on the executive council of the Radiological society of Zambia as well as the Education and Training sub-committee. I am also an honorary medical physics lecturer.
Tell us about your educational background
I have a Master of Science Degree in Medical Physics (Radiotherapy), PGCE in Maths/Physics and BSc in Physics/Maths. About to embark on my Phd which will focus on improving our treatment capabilities within our resources in particular for female cancers!
How did you get to know about Medical Physics?
I wanted to pursue medicine and when I could not I continued with my BSc physics degree. Then in my last year I came across the field as I was searching for practical applications (other than teaching) that I could utilize my acquired knowledge. I found medical physics while searching for a Masters degree course I would pursue, through the University of Surrey brochures. I even applied to the MSc Medical physics program, was accepted but I could not go there due to lack of funding (the UK fees were astronomical compared to SA). However, University of Pretoria was affordable for my parents to pay for me and that is how I enrolled at the University of Pretoria, South Africa to do my MSc in Medical Physics.
In what way are you involved in medical physics?
Research, Clinical, Academics, and Teaching.
How long have you been involved in Medical Physics?
Between 10 to 20 years
What is your main area of specialisation in Medical Physics?
What do you love about Medical Physics/your job?
I love dosimetry. Doing hands on measurements, calculations and getting it right is absolute joy for me. I love that even with so much pressure on me to do the right dosimetry calculations, getting it right will certainly save a lot of lives, potentially cure a good number and give others a good quality of life, and that for me is number one. I should be of sound mind, happy and love to do what I do as I wake up every day and do my job right. It’s a blessing from God!
Are there any challenges you face at your job?
Yes there are. Sometimes equipment fails and getting round to sort the problem can take days and weeks sometimes. The few number of physicists that we are may mean I overwork myself and this may limit other important things I should be doing. Administrative work can get a little too much. So balancing all this can be daunting.
How would you rate the Medical Physics profession in Africa, Do you think significant progress has been made? (1 being the highest point and 5 the lowest)
What do you think should be the major focus of African Medical Physicists or Medical Physics in Africa?
Increasing capacity through establishment of training programs. Exchange of knowledge and skills in a formal manner. Research that is Africa focused.
What would you say are the most essential skills needed for anyone interested in becoming a Medical Physicist?
Physics and mathematical skills and with the digital world now, computer knowledge. Other skills can be learnt on the job.
What advice would you give aspiring Physicists/Medical Physicists?
Go for it! It’s an amazing field and it is growing. It is the science in humanity and you learn to know that human life is important and if God can use you to improve humanity, I think it is the best gift. For the African continent, it is so important for us to grow in number with the right skills and knowledge and be able to adopt technology and make it work for us. Or better still create technology for ourselves (this is my secret little prayer)
If not Medical Physics what else?
Nothing else. I am happy in my space. I am a medical physicist. But if you insist on the what else, I love to bake, I can be a baker.
I have the privilege of leading 4 vibrant and excellent medical physicists of which one is a male (he is our brother, friend and we love him). It is not easy to lead and especially from inception. I am happy that I can count on my fellow medical physicists who work so hard and diligently. I am nothing without them more so I am nothing without my God. I would like to emphasize the strength in teamwork! it just cannot work if you work alone. I am also grateful for the leadership of my hospital in particular our oncologists who support our work and understand the importance of medical physics in the medical field.