CS Health inaugurates radiation safety board











Nairobi, KENYA July 10, 2019 –  The Ministry of Health is spearheading the development of the Nuclear Regulatory Bill, 2018, to enhance the national legal and regulatory framework to ensure nuclear and radiation safety in the country.

The Bill which has undergone the 2nd reading in parliament as part of the parliamentary promulgation process is intended to repeal the current 1982 Radiation Protection Act and to enhance the national legal and regulatory regime to be at par with contemporary standards and best practice in the scientific, technical and security field.

Speaking during the inauguration of Radiation Protection Board today at the Central Radioactive Waste Processing Facility, Oloolua Forest, Ngong, the Cabinet Secretary (CS) for Health, Sicily Kariuki lamented that despite accelerated advances in radiation and nuclear technology applications and the attendant radiological and nuclear security challenges, the current applicable legislation still dates back to 1982.

The appointment of the 15 members Board to be chaired by Prof Erastus Gatebe comes at a critical time when the country has prioritized Universal Health Coverage entailing: affordable, accessible and quality health services.

The core mandate of the Radiation Protection Board is to regulate the peaceful use of ionizing radiation; ensure protection of occupationally exposed workers, patients undergoing medical radiation procedures, members of the public and the environment from the harmful effects of ionizing radiation, while at the same time ensuring that society enjoys optimal socio-economic benefits.

The CS noted that advance in X-ray technology and medical imaging systems have increased exposure to radiation through computerized tomography (CT) scans and the growing complexity of the procedures. A study, titled “Strategic Analysis of Medical Imaging Industry in Kenya” by Frost & Sullivan, shows that the X-ray market earned $25.3million in 2007 $43.1 million in 2014.

Beyond certain thresholds, radiation can impair the functioning of tissues and/or organs and can produce acute effects such as skin redness, hair loss, radiation burns, or acute radiation syndrome and worse still a risk of long-term effects such as gene mutation, cancer, cataract, destruction of bones and blood cells and death.

In Kenya the national referral hospitals alone record an average of 800 to 1,000 X-ray patients every day. “We shall expect nothing but regular quality assurance measures and strengthened oversight of all radiation-related facilities and activities in the country,” the CS said.

The Ministry of Health she added is collaborating with the Ministry of Defence to finalize the Strategic Trade Control (STC) legislation, that will establish controls for Chemical Biological Radiological and Nuclear (CBRN) dual use items and goods as well as facilitating their trade.

“This legislation is also intended to control activities that may facilitate the design, development, production or delivery of Weapons of Mass Destruction – in other words ensuring non-proliferation of weapons of mass destruction. It will also provide for implementation of Kenya’s national obligations under UN Security Council Resolution 1540,” she said.

Worldwide, over 3600 million diagnostic radiology examinations are performed annually, 37 million nuclear medicine procedures are carried out, and 7.5 million radiotherapy treatments are given. Globally, about 22.8 million workers are exposed to ionizing radiation with about 13 million being exposed to natural sources and about 9.8 million to artificial sources.

The Radiation Protection Board is the designated national regulatory authority for radiation protection, nuclear security and nuclear safeguards and secure management of radioactive waste.

Kenya is a regional leader and a reference center in Radiation Protection, Nuclear Security and Nuclear Safeguards, currently hosting the Regional Secretariat of the European Union (EU) CBRN Risk-Mitigation Center of Excellence Initiative for the Eastern and Central Africa Region, with eleven participating countries.

The Central Radioactive Waste Processing Facility (CRWPF) now dubbed “Oloolua National Laboratory and Regional Centre for Radiation Safety and Nuclear Security” is used by our collaborative partners, such as the IAEA, EU, USA and regional neighbors, as a regional reference and resource center for radiation and nuclear related trainings, drills, and research.