“We gave them notice over the safety concerns; some have stopped using them while other facilities kept a deaf ear despite the fact that they received our notice,” Luwalira said.
KAMPALA- Noah Deogratius Luwalira, the Chief Executive Officer at the Atomic Energy Council (AEC) under ministry of energy and mineral development has decried lapses in radiation safety in medical facilities countrywide, an issue he said threatens the life of patients.
Luwalira said 30 medical facilities are currently experiencing challenges, such as faulty machines and lack of experienced staff to operates atom machines.He said several of them have been given notice to put up safety measures or face closure.
“We gave them notice over the safety concerns; some have stopped using them while other facilities kept a deaf ear despite the fact that they received our notice. The most commonly used radioactive materials in Ugandan medical facilities include cobalt 60, cesium and uranium 192, and they are used in cancer treatment,” said Luwalira.
Luwalira said this while training experts from Uganda, Malawi, Botswana, Zambi and Mozambique on response skills in radioactive emergencies, in storage, transportation or use.
The training took place at Hotel Africana, Kampala on Tuesday. AEC is a government statutory body established by the Atomic Energy Act No.24 of 2008 and is mandated to regulate the peaceful applications of ionizing radiation. It also provides for the regulation of the development of nuclear energy for use in power generation in compliance with international safety requirements.
Luwalira noted that the grace period the AEC normally gives is 1-6 months depending on the nature of the safety risk but was quick to highlight that after that time, the council responds by either closing the facility or prosecuting the culprits.
New Vision understands that the council closed two facilities in Lira over absence of radiation safety and lack of experts.
This is not the first time the council has closed facilities over safety challenges. In 2016, it closed the X-ray section for operating in disregard of safety precautions affecting operations of the scan and radiography units at Masaka Hospital.
The closure notice indicated that unsafe exposure could lead to cancer. According to World Health Organisation, radiation can impair the functioning of tissues or organs. Radiation can also produce acute effects such as skin redness, hair loss and radiation burns.
Radiation therapy uses high-energy particles or waves, such as x-rays, gamma rays, electron beams, or protons, to destroy or damage cancer cells. Your cells normally grow and divide to form new cells.