The Atomic Energy Council (AEC) Chief Executive Officer, Mr Noah Deogratias Luwalira has urged medical facility owners in the country to individually ensure that all precautions to safeguard against the dangers resulting from exposure to Ionizing radiation for the employees, patients and the general public.
Luwalira made the call during a sensitisation workshop on for owners and managers of medical facilities with ionizing Radiation Sources, to among others create awareness on the regulatory infrastructure for protection of the workers, patients and the public from the dangers resulting from their activities.
Luwalira said AEC has been working with other government agencies like Uganda Revenue Authority, Security Agencies and ministry of Health to ensure that all users follow all safety measures, but added that there is still need for individual users to ensure safety measures are put in place if dangers are to be fully controlled.
“As much as we are the ones doing monitoring for radiation workers at the moment, it is the responsibility of facility owners to ensure that their employees and facilities are monitored to ensure protection for the employees, the patients and the people in the surrounding areas” he said.
He further urged them and other Ugandans that use Ionizing radiation to ensure that their facilities, equipment and employees are licensed by AEC to ensure effective use of the Ionizing radiation technology.
Currently there are over 419 registered operating Radiation facilities and sources. 359 are medical, 24 industrial, 28 security related among others. However only 300 are licensed while 110 (27%) are unlicensed. Also Uganda has 1222 registered radiation workers, out of these, at least 745 (70%) are monitored by AEC.
According to Luwalira, the council has not fully fulfilled its obligations due to challenges including unfavorable law that is limited by omissions on nuclear security, lack of enough technical staff, lack of public awareness on the mandate of the council, financial limitations among others.
Natharius Nimbashabira, a senior Radiation Protection Officer at AEC saideach Ionizing radiation facility is expected to have an active radiation protection program in place that ensures protection of people that come to the facility and the environment.
“All of us should work together to protect the workers, patients, members of the public and the environment from likely harmful effects of Ionizing radiation” he said during the workshop.
According to Lydia Khalayi, the Communications Officer at AEC said the workshop is intended to sensitive medical facilities owners, also known as legal persons to ensure that they are at per with the laws and requirements of using Ionizing radiation.
“We want to ensure that all the equipment bought and used are safe, radiographers qualified and procedures properly followed” she said
However, some of the attendees raised concern over segregative treatment/ enforcement between the private and public facilities.
Dorothy Nalweyisa, the Chairman Board, Society of Radiographers of Uganda wondered why the regulator does not use the same strictness on government facilities like they do with private facilities.
In their response, AEC officials denied being lenient with government facilities saying that the effects of Ionizing radiation are too dangerous to be ignored
“Its as if you are saying we are intentionally endangering members of the society and employees that work in government facilities. As the council, we would never do that. If any of AEC employees is doing that in the field and you have some evidence, please let me know, they will be dealt with accordingly” AEC CEO Luwalira said.