The Research Scientist Association (RSA) of the Ghana Atomic Energy Commission (GAEC) has donated a desktop computer and accessories to the Commission’s Library to enhance learning among the staff of the Commission.
The donation which forms part of the RSA Week 2021 celebration included items such as Uninterruptible Power Supply (UPS) device, a scanner and a printer.
Presenting the items, the RSA President, Dr. Adolf Kofi Awua, indicated that the donation was to support the library’s digitization programme to help improve its service efficiency.
He also noted that it would make access to information and other learning material easy as well as prevent repetitive records of books and materials, which he said saves time and material resources.
Receiving the equipment, Prof. Benjamin Jabez Botwe Nyarko, the Director General of GAEC, thanked the RSA for the kind gesture and assured them the items would be put to good use.
Prof. Nyarko noted that the items would support the efforts of the Commission to modernize its library to serve the needs of staff and other library users.
“A digitized GAEC library will attract the interest of all-and-sundry looking for information and not only research scientists,” he noted.
He urged the Librarian to adopt a good maintenance culture and keep the equipment in good working condition to serve its operational lifespan. “One of the key things worrying Ghanaians is poor maintenance culture which leads to loss of resources. Therefore, let us make the effort at keeping equipment that have been acquired with resources very well,” he said.
The Research Scientists Association (RSA) of the Ghana Atomic Energy Commission (GAEC) has held its 2nd biennial Public Lecture with a focus on Nuclear Technologies in Accra.
The Public Lecture was on the theme “Nuclear Science: Enabling Technologies for sustainable development” and it forms part of the three-day programme of activities outlined for the RSA Week 2021 celebration to showcase the value of nuclear technologies to Ghana’s socio-economic development.
Although some of these technologies are applied in the fields of medicine, industry, agriculture and electricity production, among others, the public lecture focused on the use of nuclear technologies in food and agriculture, and water resource management.
Speaking on the topic “Nuclear Science in Water Resource Management, Isotope Hydrology: A Game-Changer,” the Manager of Water Resources Centre at the National Nuclear Research Institute of GAEC, Dr. Samuel Yao Ganyaglo, stressed the need for effective management of Ghana’s freshwater sources. This, he said, would help achieve the sixth Sustainable Development Goal (SDG), which is, universal and equitable access to safe and affordable drinking water for all by 2030.
Dr. Ganyaglo who is also a Principal Research Scientist at GAEC, indicated that over the years activities associated with industrialization and urbanization, such as indiscriminate waste disposal, improper agricultural practices, and unregulated mining activities have compromised the quality of surface and groundwater in Ghana.
He hinted that isotope hydrology is one of the many nuclear technologies that have and continue to complement other conventional techniques to provide answers to water resource management.
“Depending on the geology of an area, isotope hydrology is used to trace the source of groundwater salinity, to determine the origin of geothermal waters, and to trace the efficacy of artificial recharge” he explained.
The Manager of Water Resource Centre stated that isotope hydrology technology has been deployed to some parts of the country such as the Akyem Achiase basin to determine the origin of salinity in the groundwater. “In providing a solution for the community, we mapped out freshwater zones in the area to increase accessibility to fresh water,” he added.
He concluded that isotope has proven to be an effective tool for understanding hydrological and hydrogeological systems for better management of water resources. “It is also cost effective and we look forward to partnering our stakeholders in the application of isotope technology to support the sustainable management of water resources in Ghana,” Dr. Ganyaglo added.
A Research Scientist and country coordinator of the Program for Biosafety Systems (PBS), Dr. Daniel Osei Ofosu who spoke on the topic “Effect of Gamma Irradiation and Packaging of Fruits Ripening Characteristics of two distinct types of Plantain (Musa sp. AAB),” said the other application of nuclear technology that can help improve food safety and extend shelf life is the food irradiation technology.
The technology, he said, reduces or eliminates microorganisms and insects when foods are exposed to an optimum amount of Gamma Radiation. “This prevents spoilage without leaving any residue of radiation in the food,” he added.
“Irradiation is increasingly becoming an important application in the food supply industry. By international standards, food items such as spices must be irradiated before it is exported. At GAEC, we have a gamma irradiation facility which is used to sterilize foods, pharmaceuticals, and health care products,” he stated.
Dr. Ofosu explained that it is required that plantains are exported at their green stage but unfortunately some plantain farmers in Ghana are not able to prevent the ripening of their food produce.
He, however, revealed that research conducted at the gamma irradiation facility shows that the irradiation technique can be used to preserve the green stage of plantain.
In his Welcome Address, the President of the RSA-GAEC, Dr. Adolf Kofi Awua, urged scientists to step out of their labs and engage the public with their nuclear research activities that have generated solutions for their everyday lives. This he said is in keeping with the RSA’s slogan of “Inspiring science, impacting lives”
“The public engagement will provide opportunities for mutual learning between scientists and the public which will lead to solution-driven research when the scientists go back to their labs”, he added.
On his part, the Chairman for the occasion, Dr. Michael Yao Osae, noted that research scientists were the driving force of the Commission because the application of their research activities impacts the lives of individuals in society.
Dr. Osae who is also the Director of the Biotechnology and Nuclear Agriculture Research Institute (BNARI) of GAEC stressed that the efforts of Ghana to achieve the SDGs must be backed by nuclear science and technology. “If we want to cut down on carbon, if we want to achieve sustainable food production, if Ghana wants to leap into industrialization, nuclear science and technology must be embraced and applied in every area of the society” he added. He also emphasized that Nuclear technologies are applicable in all sectors of Ghana and hope to see the day that the GAEC will have desks in most of the Ministries to increase the impact of nuclear technologies in Ghana.
A seven-member Board of the Ghana Atomic Energy Commission (GAEC) chaired by Dr. Kwesi Aning, a former Deputy Director-General of the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA), has been inaugurated in Accra.
The GAEC Board, which will provide direction to Management, was inaugurated by the Minister of Environment, Science, Technology, and Innovation (MESTI), Dr. Kweku Afriyie.
Other members of the Board include the Director-General of GAEC, Professor Benjamin Jabez Botwe Nyarko, Chief Director of MESTI, Mrs. Cynthia Asare Bediako, and a Court of Appeal Judge, Justice Dennis Dominic Adjei.
/The rest are Prof. Elsie A. B. Effah Kaufmann of the University of Ghana and the Director of Research Survey and Administration at AIESEC Dr. Robert Adjaye.
Dr. Afriyie said the Commission had a long history, which was almost as old as Ghana’s independence; saying with regards to agencies that had dealt with nuclear energy and all its ramifications, GAEC was one of the first in Sub-Saharan Africa, excluding South Africa.
He noted that Ghana had got a very rich nuclear history and culture, stating that the country needs nuclear energy more than any other time its history.
He said the nexus for Ghana’s Atomic Energy was that nuclear energy was becoming very important as a terminal source of energy for the country’s industrial development.
“I know we will go through a transition; we will use gas and all that but the geographical development of Ghana is such that our hydro resources used to be the number one, is still very important, except that we have exhausted almost all the potentials. Coal is a dirty fuel, even the oil is also a biofuel. So, if we are going to transition, then it means at the terminal end we have to look at nuclear energy as a saviour of some sort.”
He said fortunately, under President John Agyekum Kufuor’s regime, Ghana took some steps under Professor Daniel Adjei Bekoe’s Committee, which fortunately other regimes also continued.
He said President Nana Addo Dankwa Akufo-Addo’s Government would make sure that Ghana taps its nuclear potential because the knowledge and technical know-how were there.
He said the Government was putting regulations and structures in place to ensure that Ghana started its nuclear power generation.
Dr. Afriyie noted that the Board had come in at a very crucial moment in Ghana’s development, especially with regards to energy; saying the decisions that they were going to take would impact on the country’s rapid development.
He said there was the need to generate more energy to meet the growing demand in the country; such as the feeding industry.
He said if Ghana was to go nuclear there was the need for the GAEC to carry Ghanaians along.
“If you want to do nuclear energy, misinformation alone would mislead the populace that is why it is very crucial for you to do the advocacy as a Board collectively and as individuals, I think that will help,” Dr. Afriyie said.
The Minister urged the Board to make the GAEC more visible to the populace.
On his part, Dr. Aning on the behalf of his colleagues expressed gratitude to the President for the honour done them.
He said nuclear technology was the most powerful technology ever known to man in two senses: “The same technology that can be used to destroy Accra, can be used to determine whether a five-month-old baby is getting enough nutrition; so, its width and breadth of application is very broad”.
He said nuclear technology was very rich but it had a downside, which was safety; adding that, there was a new nuclear regulatory body, which was taking care of the issue of safety.
Prof. Nyarko in an interview with the Ghana News Agency, expressed his joy over the Board’s inauguration; adding that, the Board was coming in at a time when the Commission had a lot of activities waiting for the Board’s approval before their execution.
The Radiation Protection Institute (RPI) of the Ghana Atomic Energy Commission (GAEC) held a five-day training workshop from September 27 to October 1, 2021, for Radiographers and X-ray Technicians in radiation protection and safety.
The objective of the workshop was to equip Radiographers and X-ray Technicians with the techniques of dealing with risks associated with excessive radiation exposure and update practitioners on the right protocols and procedures when performing such radiographic procedures.
Facilitators took the participants through topics including Occupational Radiation Protection, National Regulatory Requirements for Control of Radiation Sources, Quality Management System of Radiological Facilities and Activities, Safety and Security of Radiation Sources, Radioactive Waste Management, Radiation Protection in Diagnostic Radiology, Patient Dose Assessment & Image Quality, Radiation Protection in Radiotherapy and Nuclear Medicine, and Magnetic Resonance Imaging (MRI) Safety, among others.
Addressing the participants at the workshop, the Director General of GAEC, Prof. Benjamin Jabez Botwe in a speech read on his behalf by the Deputy Director of RPI, Dr. Joseph K. Amoako said that the evolving nature of medicine with so many advancements in technology has compelled the continuous training of Radiographers to equip them with the necessary knowledge in radiation protection and safety.
He, therefore, noted that as part of efforts to enhance the capacity and ensure the intelligibility of Radiographers in modern medicine, the RPI as a licensed Technical Service Organization (TSO) has been given the authority to provide technical and training services to personnel in medical, industrial and research radiation activities in Ghana.
“RPI is now positioned to provide scientific, technical support and training in Health Physics, including Occupational Radiation Protection, Public Exposure, Nuclear Safety and Security as well as Radioactive Waste Management. It also undertakes research, development and technical training services in Non–ionizing radiation protection” he said.
Prof. Botwe urged the participants to avail themselves to the training so that they can be fully acquaint themselves with the current and relevant issues of radiation protection and safety in medicine.
“It is my fervent hope that the objectives of this training course will be fully achieved by the end of the training. You will be taken through an elaborate syllabus in radiation protection and safety and also given a hands-on training at our Personnel Dosimetry Laboratory and Secondary Standard Dosimetry Laboratory. You will be also be provided with a GAEC Ionizing Radiation Safety Training Manual” he added.
Speaking on the sidelines of the programme, the Manager in charge of training at RPI, Dr. Stephen Inkoom, said that the hands-on training sessions would be given to the participants at selected facilities including laboratories of GAEC and the University of Ghana Medical Center.
“We will take our participants to the X-ray and Imaging Departments so that the main parameters which have implications for patient dose will be exposed to them. Parameters such as the choice of kVp and mAs which have implications for patient dose will be looked at, because for any medical exposure, the first thing is justification by a physician, then the Imaging Technologist or Radiographer would have to carry out the exposure”, he added.
Dr. Inkoom indicated that this years Training Course has been granted ten (10) Continuing Professional Development (CPD) points by the Allied Health Professions Council (AHPC), Ghana.
The participants were from the Ghana Health Service, Regional and District Hospitals across Ghana, Specialist Hospitals, and Private Diagnostic and Imaging Centers, and a foreign participant from Swaziland among others.
Nine Medical Physicists have completed a six-month fellowship programme in diagnostic radiology and nuclear medicine at the Ghana Atomic Energy Commission (GAEC) in Accra.
The participants were from Egypt, Ethiopia, Kenya, Sudan, Uganda, and Zimbabwe, and the programme was under the tutelage of the Radiological and Medical Sciences Research Institute (RAMSRI) of GAEC with sponsorship from the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA).
Addressing the fellows at a closing ceremony in Accra, the Director-General of the GAEC, Prof. Benjamin Jabez Botwe Nyarko, said Medical Physicists are an important component of the entire radiotherapy and nuclear medicine ecosystem.
Prof Nyarko explained that Medical Physics deals with the application of physical principles to diagnose and treat human diseases and the branches of medical physics include, therapeutic medical physics, diagnostic medical physics, medical nuclear physics, and medical health physics.
He explained that Medical Physicists provide essential radiation protection and radiation safety services, plan patients’ radiation treatment using either external radiation beams or internally placed radioactive sources, and analyze nuclear medical image data to determine important physiological variables such as metabolic rates and blood flow.
Prof. Nyarko mentioned that the IAEA and the African Regional Cooperative Agreement for Research, Development, and Training related to Nuclear Science and Technology (AFRA) have made a conscious effort to develop African experts in the field of nuclear science by hosting training sessions in Africa.
“It is our duty to ensure that our continent is recognized in the field of diagnostic radiology and nuclear medicine. Therefore, I am encouraging all fellows to go back to their respective countries and share their knowledge with their people. Contribute to the development of Africa by putting your expertise and skills to work for your country,” he said.
The Director of the Radiological and Medical Sciences Research Institute (RAMSRI), Prof Mary Boadu, said that the training has been rigorous because the facilitators ensured that all modules in diagnostic radiology and nuclear medicine were covered.
“I believe that good and reasonable knowledge and skills have been impacted into the fellows. I will like to encourage you to endeavor to implement as soon as possible the skills that have been impacted into you upon your return to your country” she added.
In a short statement, the Fellowship Coordinator, Mr. Theophilus Sackey, mentioned that the objective of the training was to help fill the huge gap of non-availability of clinically trained medical physicists in diagnostic radiology and nuclear medicine in Africa.
He further noted that although the fellows experienced a few challenges, the training programme has largely been a success.
“I am particularly happy with the frank and open manner in which we discussed and overcame the challenges that we faced. I encourage you to make use of the numerous networks that you have established here in Ghana to the benefit of diagnostic radiology and nuclear medicine in your respective countries” he added.
The nine fellows and training facilitators from RAMSRI were presented with certificates for their participation.