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Atomic Energy Council warns hospitals on patients’ protection against ionizing radiation on health

CEO Noah Luwalira(C) B being flanked by Lt. Col James Mwesigye(R) and CAO Mbarara Ananias Ruhemba addressing the media about ionising radiations. (PHOTO/BOB AINE)

MBARARA – Both public and privately owned health facilities that offer radiology services have been warned against employing unqualified radiographers.

Noah Deogratius Luwalira the Chief Executive Officer (CEO) of the Atomic Energy Council which is under the Ministry of Energy said that the people who operate these machines should have formal training and expertise to be able to follow the regulations that provide for radiation safety.

He said that all health facilities, industries should have radiation safety officers and that the facility should develop local rules to ensure that people are protected.

These unqualified radiographers tend to operate electromagnetic equipment, which exposes patients to risks of ionizing radiations without safety measures.

Mr. Luwalira has warned that these facilities are risking lives and will have their licenses terminated.

Ionizing radiations can be produced from natural sources like soils, water, vegetation as well as human-made devices such as X-rays and other medical devices. That much risk is high in hospitals, industries where there are radioactive sources is being used.

“People have to be protected by having protective gears, they should wear Thermo Luminescent Dosimeter (TLDs), and the facility should be well shielded so that radiation does not go beyond the area of treatment,” Luwalira advised.

The Atomic Energy CEO made these remarks during a western sensitization workshop for authorized persons, radiation safety officers and district health officers at Lakeview Hotel in Mbarara

He added that for the case of hospitals, when a patient goes to seek for radiology services, the patient should first check whether the facility has a license to be sure that the facility has protective measures.

“We normally direct health facilities who offer radiology services to display licenses so that it is visible for any person, patients should always demand to be dressed up in protective gear like eye goggles and other shields  from radiations if the facility does not have please move to another one  where you will be safe” added Luwalira.

Staffs of Atomic Energy Council, with RDC Lt. Col Mwesigye, CEO Luwalira and other health officers posing for a group photo after the workshop at Lake View Hotel. (PHOTO/BOB AINE)

He further mentioned the dangers that result from getting exposed to ionizing radiations which are he said some are short and long term. He mentioned that in short term one can lose hair on the head, skin burns that cause chronical wounds, changing of the skin colour from its nature appearance and it does not heal until one dies. That it also causes severe headache and vomiting where in extreme cases a person has to die depending on how much dosage one has been exposed too since it kills all the body organs.

“This happens immediately after exposure, sometimes after a minute or a second, other times a few days depending on how much dosage of ionizing radiations you have been exposed”

For the long term, Luwalira said that it can change the genetic configuration where one gets malformed offsprings and that it also causes cancer of the throat, leukemia.

Lt. Col. James Mwesigye the RDC Mbarara, however, noted that there is a shortage of radiographers, especially in lower health units. “Sometimes you find in a certain health center has one radiographer and when that person gets sick, the unit will be in problems which I think there is a need to be addressed.”

Rashida Nabule one of the radiographers at Masaka regional referral hospital called upon the government to ensure that they are protected since they work on very many patients which exposes them to ionizing radiations.

“We work on so many patients which pose us to high risks, sometimes our employers don’t allow us to rest, I think the government and the Atomic Energy Council should ensure that such workers are allowed to rest since we get exposed to much dosage”

Dr. Celestine Barigye the Hospital Director for Mbarara Regional Referral Hospital asked the Atomic Energy Council to always invite the service providers of these machines to attend such workshops.

“Sometimes service providers bring equipment to your facility and when Atomic Council comes, they tell you it does not match with the standards I think it would prudent enough to have these people here and also learn which machines they should always provide.” He remarked.

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