Concerns on UNREGULATED radioactive materials fires-up gov’t to take action
The Government and its stakeholders shared their stories today in Honiara on how they are dealing with radioactive and its effects have concluded that there is a need to establish a law to manage, monitor and control its use.
Ministry of Health and Medical Services and the Ministry of Foreign Affairs organized the Radiology Workshop which was led by Solomon Islands’ leading Radiologist and Medical Doctor, Dr. Aaron Oritaimae.
Permanent Secretary of Foreign Affairs Collin Beck when opening the workshop admitted that this is one area that is unregulated and needs to be addressed.
“This is one of the policy gaps in our system. When we talk about radioactive material in the country it is almost like unreported, unregulated and we are unsure where are they kept,” he said.
Radiation is defined online as the emission or transmission of energy in the form of waves or particles through space or through a material medium. This includes: electromagnetic radiation, such as radio waves, microwaves, infrared, visible light, ultraviolet, x-rays, and gamma radiation.
Based on today’s workshop, there is no data of radio active materials in the country though it is widely used.
The Ministry of Health and Medical Services through its hospitals use Xrays that use radioactive. Airport and Solomon Islands Ports Authority also use X-rays. Other Ministries like Mines and the Ministry of Infrastructure Development also have X-rays that use radioactive.
Speaking about radioactive in the country, Dr Oritaimae said: “We know that there are developments, but we don’t have a good grasp on the entry, control, movements of these radiation sources Solomon Islands.”
He continued: “We have some understandings of it but it is not deep enough.”
Dr Oritaimae said this is a national interest and Solomon Islands must take ownership of it.
Beck has also expressed his worry incase the radioactive falls in wrong hands.
“If they fall in right hand that’s alright but if they fall in the wrong hands it can be a bigger threat,” said Beck.
Dr Oritaimae and his NRH had also outline hospital protocols on the used of radioactive via their x-ray machines.
The hospital’s lab is well secured and have clear messages to the public not to enter the restricted space.
At the same-time the hospital has also placed limits on x-rays to patients to avoid regular x-rays because of its effects.
The NRH staff also have the mandatory Personal Protection Equipment (PPEs) to protect them from radiation.
Other government ministries have also given brief presentations about how they are dealing with radiation at their work places.
As a result of their presentations, the stakeholders have urgently called for the creation of a legislation to deal with radiation given its severe effects— if it is not controlled.
As a result, a taskforce was established and within the next 14 days work on a Cabinet Paper to the government with the intension to put in place framework to advance the agenda.
Stakeholders agreed that one of the urgent issues to address is to do an inventory of the scale of radioactive in the country.
There are still no reported cases of the effects of radiation in the country. However, the danger is exposure to high level radiation can cause acute health effects such as skin burns and long term effects could lead to diseases like cancer.