Atomic Energy Secures License for Production of Hand Sanitizers

The Ghana Atomic Energy Commission (GAEC) has successfully obtained a license for the production and sale of hand sanitizers to its stakeholders and the general public as a whole.

This was necessitated by the result of laboratory tests conducted, indicating that some of the hand sanitizers being sold on the market were sub-standard.

The Nuclear Chemistry and Environmental Research Center (NCERC) of the National Nuclear Research Institute (NNRI) of GAEC, was therefore asked to produce a high-quality hand sanitizer for the protection of Staff of against the deadly virus COVID-19 when it became clear that some of the products on the market were ineffective against it.

However, the Commission later decided to seek approval from the Food and Drugs Authority (FDA) to produce the sanitizers for sale to the general public. This decision was due to GAEC’s continued effort to support the fight against this deadly disease.

The “VIBAC CLEANSE” hand sanitizers (Gel and Spray) produced by Ghana Atomic Energy Commission contain 70+% alcohol and therefore extremely potent against viruses and bacteria, including the Novel Corona Virus (COVID-19).

The name Vibac was derived from the first few letters of “virus” and “bacteria” indicating its effectiveness against both pathogens.

 

By: Corporate Affairs, GAEC

GAEC Ladies Association Donate Towards Covid-19 Fight

The Ghana Atomic Energy Commission (GAEC) Ladies Association has donated assorted items to their mother organization to help curb the spread of the coronavirus, in a short ceremony held at the Commission’s auditorium.

The presentation of the donated items coincided with its one-year anniversary celebration.  

Prof. Mary Boadu, GAEC Ladies Association President giving her opening remarks

In her opening remarks, the President of the Association, Prof. Mary Boadu, stated that due to the current global pandemic and the ban on all forms of mass social gatherings in the country, the Association decided to celebrate its one-year anniversary on the quiet by donating items to support the efforts GAEC is making to fight the disease.  

“On 11th March 2020, the Director-General of WHO, Dr. Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus declared COVID-19 a global pandemic, implying that the disease is not just a public health crisis, it is a crisis that will touch every sector. Global data shows how fast the disease is spreading and Ghana has also seen a rapid increase in people infected with the virus”, she added.

Prof. Boadu said that the best method of protection against COVID-19 has been shown to be regular washing of hands, surfaces, wearing of face masks, and maintaining social distancing. 

“Hence water, soap, hand sanitizers, paper towels, etc. are very essential and key in the fight against COVID-19”, she said.

She revealed that the Commission since the declaration of the disease as a pandemic and the prescription of the associated precautionary measures has been providing the needed essentials. 

“With this observation, GAEC Ladies Association thought of a way to support GAEC even if on a limited scale”, she revealed.

“It is with great joy and honour that I present the items before us to the Director-General and Management of GAEC on behalf of GAEC Ladies Association, to support the efforts of the Commission to limit the spread of the novel coronavirus in the offices of GAEC. We are ready to use our imagination, creativity and our curiosity to impact the Commission and our World, both in technical and social forms”, said the President.

Prof. BJB Nyarko, Director-General, GAEC

The Director-General (DG) of GAEC, Prof. Benjamin J.B. Nyarko, in a short statement thanked the Ladies’ Association for their kind gesture to help curb the spread of the disease. He also took the opportunity to congratulate them on their one-year anniversary celebration.

Prof. Nyarko was also thankful to all the associations of the Commission for their immense support nationally and within GAEC during this trying period. 

He revealed that the Research Scientist Association (RSA) made a donation to the GAEC hospital to help augment their efforts to fight against the disease. 

Also, the DG indicated that in addition to some equipment and kits supplied by International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA), Research Scientists Association (RSA), and Association of Senior Members in Administration (ASMA) of GAEC, made a cheque donation to the Government. 

Prof Nyarko also revealed that the Technical Staff Association (TSA) of the Commission in conjunction with the National Nuclear Research Institute (NNRI) has submitted a hand sanitizer formulation to the Food and Drugs Authority for certification. This he said will enable them to produce hand sanitizers for the Commission and also on a commercial scale.

He added that The TSA has also submitted some drawings produced by the Mechanical Workshop of the Commission for approval and onward manufacture, to help dispense water and soap from Veronica buckets without touching them. 

He revealed that GAEC is contributing immensely to the fight against the disease. 

“Officials from Noguchi Memorial Institute and the Ghana COVID-19 secretariat have inspected the Radiological and Medical Sciences Research Institute’s (RAMSRI) laboratories and a report has been sent to the Minister of Health for the building to be used in this fight”. 

The Director-General indicated that GAEC has also placed a request through the Ministry of Foreign Affairs to the IAEA to support the Accra Veterinary laboratory with equipment to test for the presence of the virus in animals, bearing in mind the belief that the virus is zoonotic, that is, can be transmitted between animals and humans. 

He indicated that the IAEA is supporting member states in Asia, Latin America, and Africa including Ghana with equipment for the frontline laboratories and workers to fight the disease.

He finally thanked the GAEC security for their tireless efforts in protecting Staff and equipment especially during the lockdown.

By OCPA

Atomic Energy Commission Donate €82,982.62 Worth of Equipment to MOH

The Ghana Atomic Energy Commission (GAEC) on Thursday, May 14, donated ₵10,000.00 cash and several equipment to the tune of €82,982.62 to the Ministry of Health in Accra, to help combat the COVID – 19 menace.

The cash component was given by the Research Scientists and the Association of Senior Members of GAEC, while the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) paid for the equipment to help Ghana on its fight against the disease.

Prof. Benjamin J.B. Nyarko, Director-General of GAEC

Speaking at the event, The Director-General of GAEC, Prof. Benjamin J.B. Nyarko, noted that the items included, Covid-19 Positive Control systems, an MIC-PCR System by Eurofin Genomics, a TaqMan Fast Virus Master mix, a Class III Biohazard Safety Cabinet, a Class II Biohazard Safety Cabinet, an HP laptop among others.

“The Cost of the items is estimated at Euros 82,982.62 and we wish to express our gratitude to the Director-General of the IAEA, H.E Rafael Grossi, and the entire team for the support given to Ghana over the years, especially throughout this coronavirus pandemic”, he said.

The Director-General revealed that GAEC is putting in place the necessary protocols to enable it to use Gamma Irradiation Technology to sterilize some PPEs used in the country to ensure their safety, especially in this COVID-19 era. 

Also, he added that the Ghana Space Science & Technology Institute (GSSTI) of the Commission is proposing to employ Deep Learning Approach (a technique used in artificial intelligence), to better understand the patterns of images produced and learning how the disease manifests itself in Computed Tomography (CT) Scans or X-ray images. “This can shorten the time of diagnosis as well as provide a lot of insight into the disease”, he said. 

The Chief Director of the Ministry, Nana Kwabena Adjei – Mensah, on receiving the items on behalf of the Minister, thanked GAEC for spearheading this noble gesture.

Mr. Adjei – Mensah indicated that the donated PCR equipment and other items will be handed over to the University of Health and Allied Sciences to help boost their testing capabilities. This he said was due to the numbers testing positive in the Volta region and surrounding areas.

He opined that Ghana is one of the highest testing countries with about 9 testing centers and this equipment is going to further strengthen that fact.

Volta Regional Minister, Dr. Archibald Letsa receiving the donation

The equipment and kits in addition to the cash donation were handed over to the Chief Director by the Chairman of the Board of GAEC, Dr. Kwaku Aning, who also doubles as the Governor for Ghana at the IAEA Board of Governors in Vienna Austria. 

Present at the program was the Volta Regional Minister, Dr. Archibald Letsa, The Vice-Chancellor of UHAS, Prof. John Owusu Gyapong, Chairman of the Parliamentary Caucus of the Volta region and some Directors of the Ministry of Health.

Also, present on behalf GAEC, was the Deputy Director-General, Prof. Shiloh D. Osae, The Director of GSSTI, Prof. Dickson Adomako, the Ag. Director of Administration, Mr. William K. Srekumah, 

the President of Research Scientist Association, Dr. Adolf K. Awua, the Chairman of Association of Senior Members in Administration, Mr. Bismark T. Nyarko, the Head of Procurement, Mr. Paul Adika, the Head of General Administration, Ms. Justine Akpedonu and Dr. Shiraz Issahaku, a Research Scientist as well as other members of Staff.

By OCPA, GAEC

Research Scientists Donate PPE’s to Ghana Atomic Energy Commission (GAEC) Hospital

The leadership of Research Scientists from the Ghana Atomic Energy Commission and the Nuclear Regulatory Authority, on Wednesday, May 6, donated some Personal Protective Equipment (PPE’s) and Sanitary items to Management of the GAEC hospital, to help fight the COVID-19 menace.

The team was led by the President of the Research Scientists Association, Dr. Adolf Kofi Awua in a short ceremony held at the Ghana Atomic Energy Commission’s Hospital in Accra.

 

Speaking on behalf of the Association, Dr. Awua acknowledged the enormous risks that the doctors, and nurses, as well as other health professionals, are exposed to as they interact with their clients without knowing the status of these clients. He expressed the need to keep staff and patients safe whilst they are engaged in the provision of healthcare and the discharge of their duties.

 

He indicated that this was a token of support, from the members of the Association, to show their appreciation for the hard work of the staff of the hospital.

On receiving the items, the Medical Superintendent of the hospital, Dr. Anthony Quampah, thanked the RSA on behalf of the Director-General of GAEC, Prof. BJB Nyarko.

“COVID-19 has come to add to the usual cost that we have always incurred in running the hospital. The need to acquire this protective equipment is very important to ensure proper protection. We are therefore very grateful for this gesture”, he said.

 

Additionally, Dr. Quampah revealed that these items will help ease a lot of pressure on hospital finances. He appealed to well-meaning Ghanaians and corporate bodies to emulate the steps taken by the RSA in the provision of items such as Veronica buckets, nose masks, hand washing soaps, and sanitizers.

The items donated to the hospital included surgical gloves, liquid soap, multipurpose paper towels, disposable face masks, and plastic surgical aprons.

 

Present at the donation were other officials of the RSA, the Vice President, Dr, Anita Asamoah, the General-Secretary, Mr. Daniel Ofosu, the Chairman of the Investment Committee, Dr. Cecil Odoi, the Chairman of the Constitution, By-Law and Disciplinary Committee, Dr. Fidelis Ocloo and some members of the GAEC hospital’s Management.

By OCPA

MEDICAL IMAGING- THE GHANA SITUATION

Diagnostic Medical imaging is the technique and process of creating visual representations of the interior of a body (Anatomical) for clinical analysis and medical intervention, as well as visual representation of the function of organs or tissues (Physiological). All these procedures are handled by the imaging team to advance a better understanding of the complex practices and protocols behind each image.

The team comprises; Radiologists, Medical Physicists, Biomedical Engineers, Radiation Technologists and other supporting staff, who collaborate to advance the course of the imaging process to the benefit of patients. Interestingly, there have been an increased use of medical imaging in Ghana, mainly for staging and localizing tumors and cancer diagnoses, as well as detecting anatomical and physiological problems. The success of this increase will depend on an effective medical imaging team, with well-trained clinical Medical Physicists and Biomedical Engineers, who are key members of a well-defined imaging team.

The absence of this imaging team hinder the expansion and the development of precision medicine through integrated decision support application software and effective use of medical imaging equipment and devices in Ghana. This is because, the absence has affected the realization and transformation of medical imaging, which would have made medical equipment smarter, imaging results faster and examinations more precise, to obtain effective diagnoses outcomes and above all prevent the constant break down of these equipment.

In Ghana, there are about 500 imaging equipment country-wide, of which 62% are in Greater Accra region, 11% in Ashanti region and the rest of the 27% are dotted across the country. This in balance is a major challenge to health care delivery in the country. According to internationally accepted standards, this is really inadequate to serve the population of about 30 million and use for proper diagnoses of diseases. Unfortunately, this is the stuck reality and we currently have no option but to accept it. Apart from the inadequate imaging equipment, there is also an issue of frequent break down of these equipment. This may be attributed to several factors, among them being the lack of expertise in these centers. This I found as unacceptable since these experts are available in the country and the International Atomic Energy Agency’s Basic Safety Standards, of which Ghana is a signatory, says they must be employed by the authorities and owners of these facilities, unfortunately, not much has been done in this regard.

Annually, an average of 250 imaging experts are trained in Ghana, which are made up of Medical Physicists, Radiologists, Radiographers, and Biomedical Engineers. Of this number, just about 50% are employed, who are mostly Radiologists Radiographers. This is because the Radiographers take the images and the Radiologist report and interprets those images. The absence of these professionals will mean no imaging process, hence the system is forced to employ them. However, the other core members of this team namely the Medical Physicists and the Biomedical Engineers, whose jobs are very essential not only for the quality assurance and optimization of the processes and protocols but for the safety of both patients and users of these facilities. In other words, the risks associated with the use of these machines are extremely high in Ghana to both patients, users and the general public when these additional professionals are not involved. As to why this persists it’s only the authorities and owners of these facilities who can explain. It is of interest to note that several attempts by the Ghana Society for Medical Physics and other related health professionals to resolve these issues fell on deaf ears. The politicians are not interested and to make matters worse the technocrats in the field who should know better turn a blind eye, exposing citizens to extreme risk and danger. I intend to leave this aspect for another discussion, however, what the general public should know is that all is not well with the diagnostic imaging processes in Ghana and the earlier something is done about it the better, for the safety of the patients, users, and the general public.

The rapid progress of medical imaging and the invention of various medical imaging equipment have benefited mankind in the developed world. However, this seems to be the reverse in the developing world, including Ghana. I have visited a number of facilities in Europe and had the opportunity of seeing the wonders in using this equipment in the proper and correct diagnosis of diseases as a necessity before treatment. The more sophisticated these bio-instruments are, the better the diagnosis. Unfortunately, I weep for mother Ghana any time I visit these facilities across the country. It is time the general public realized that we are all at high risk for lack of action by our leaders in ensuring that Medical Physicist and Biomedical engineers are employed in all imaging facilities in the country.

Even though medical images play an important role in clinical diagnosis and therapy of various diseases. It is often thought of as a way to represent anatomical structures of the body with the help of X-ray, Sound waves and electromagnetic wave. But often it is more useful for physiologic function in addition to the determination of anatomical structures. With the growth of computers and image technologies, medical imaging has greatly influenced the medical field. As the quality of medical imaging affects diagnosis, medical image processing has become a hotspot and the clinical applications wanting to store and retrieve images for future purposes need some convenient process to store those images in detail.

Generally, there are three forms of medical imaging; first by the use of X-ray as in Conventional X-ray, popularly referred to as X-ray, Computed Tomography referred to as CT, Mammography, and Fluoroscopy. Secondly, the use of waves (electromagnetic and sound) as in Magnetic resonance Imaging, referred to as MRI and Ultrasound, referred to as scan (in Ghana) and thirdly by Nuclear Medicine Techniques, where a radioactive substance is inhaled or injected into a patient and a camera is made to detect the radiation from the tissues of the patient. The difference between the first two imaging processes (X-ray and electromagnetic and sound wave) and the third process (Nuclear Medicine Techniques) is that in the case of the first two cases, the X-ray and the electromagnetic and sound waves are generated from a source and made to pass through the human tissues and a picture of the internal tissues or organs are drawn. However, in the third case (Nuclear Medicine Technique), the source of the radiation is the radioactive substance inhaled or injected into the patient and the camera is made to detect the source of the radiation which is defined by the metabolic activities of the patient’s tissues based on their health state.

Though the final images obtained from many techniques have similarities, the technologies used and the parameters represented in the images are very different in characteristics as well as in medical usefulness, even different mathematical and statistical models are used. Several techniques have been developed to enable CT, MRI and ultrasound scanning software to produce 3D images for interpretation and diagnoses. Traditionally, CT and MRI scans produced 2D static output on film. Therefore to produce 3D images, many scans were made and then used to produce a 3D model which can then be manipulated for the purpose it was taken to answer clinical questions.

Despite all these benefits, medical imaging also poses danger to the users, patients and the general public, based on the use of radiation in acquiring these images if the right care is not taken by the experts in the field. Radiation is energy that comes from a source and travels through space and may be able to penetrate various materials including human tissues. Light, radio waves, and microwaves are types of radiation that are called nonionizing radiation. The kind of radiation discussed in most of these imaging equipment is called ionizing radiation because it can produce charged particles (ions) in matter which can cause serious irreparable damage to tissues. However, experts in the field like Medical Physicists are trained with taxpayers’ monies to offer services in this regard, in order to ensure the safe use of these equipment. Unfortunately, those who matter have refused to employ these professionals despite Ghana signing on to the International Atomic Energy Agency’s Basic Safety Standard (BSS) documents which demands that these professionals are employed to offer services for the well-being of all Ghanaians.

I have the following questions for the authorities and owners of imaging facilities;

  1. What will it take to ensure that all hospitals in Ghana are made to employ at least one Medical Physicist and a Biomedical engineer each, to ensure the safety and proper functioning of this equipment?
  1. Why are you ignoring the danger posed to the citizens by ignoring your responsibility of protecting the general public and the sick as enshrined in article 30 of the 1992 constitution of the Republic of Ghana.

I leave these questions to the conscience of those responsible to do the right thing and I will be back if nothing is done.

Shiraz Issahaku (Ph.D.)

Imaging Expert/Consultant