GAEC Trains Freight Forwarders on Radiation Protection and Safety

The Radiation Protection Institute (RPI) of the Ghana Atomic Energy Commission (GAEC) is organizing a Radiation Protection and Safety Training Course for Radiation Protection Officers (RPOs) and some Qualified Operators/Staff of Genuine Group Logistics in Accra to ensure public and environmental radiation safety.

The core objective of the programme is to ensure that the participants understand basic radiation physics in their line of duty to forestall possible health hazards associated with ionizing radiation as well as radioactive substances.

The seven participants (second batch) who are mainly staff of Genuine Group Logistics are expected to carry out practical laboratory exercises as part of the one-week course.

The Manager of the Radiation Protection Training and Consultancy Centre of RPI, Dr. Stephen Inkoom, in a short ceremony to welcome the participants, stated that his outfit is responsible for the training of workers in various institutions such as medical, research, industry and among others whose operations cut across the use and transportation of radioactive materials.

He explained that the course is key for freight forwarders since they have a tendency of transporting radioactive substances or devices that may contain radioactive materials.  “Genuine Group Logistics are Logistics services providers in Takoradi – Ghana offering a wide range of logistics support services for companies and establishments in sectors such as oil and gas, maritime, mining and construction, banking and financial services, education, health, security services amongst others. So this training is a necessity considering their activities”, he stressed.

Dr. Inkoom explained that, the programme would equip the participants on the basic principles of radiation protection and how to apply them in their work environment. “The trainees would understand the national and international requirements for the control of ionizing radiation sources and also, emergency preparedness and response to abnormal situations involving the use of radioactive material”, he added.

He was confident that GAEC would continue to train more radiation workers in Ghana and Africa in order to ensure public and environmental safety to meet the standards set by the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA).

He finally called on the institutions to ensure that their occupationally exposed workers are well trained to handle all peaceful applications of ionizing radiation based on regulations by the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) and the Nuclear Regulatory Authority (NRA), Ghana.

By: Thykingdom Kudesey, GAEC – Office of Corporate and Public Affairs (OCPA)

Coming into Flower: How IAEA Support is Benefitting Ghana’s Floriculture Industry

Ghana and the IAEA have worked together for several years to develop national capacity in plant mutation breeding and tissue culture technology. Through its technical cooperation programme, the IAEA provided fellowships and scientific visits to build capacity, and also trained scientists in the skills needed to apply the technology in their fields of operation. This new capacity is now being used to strengthen Ghana’s flower growing industry.

The flower industry in Ghana is currently under-developed. Little research and development has been dedicated to the sector, and it faces challenges in the production and propagation of flowers. However, the industry has the potential to provide sustainable job opportunities that can reduce the high youth unemployment rate in Ghana, especially among university graduates.

“The flower industry is a highly-evolved market that contributes immensely to income and foreign exchange in most developed worlds,” said Abigail Tweneboah Asare, a research scientist and training facilitator. “However, it is an emerging industry in Ghana, with the potential to provide income and improve the livelihood of growers as well as provide foreign exchange for the country as a whole.”

In collaboration with the Ghana Flower Growers Association, the Ghana Atomic Energy Commission (GAEC) has recently began to train flower growers in modern propagation techniques. The training seeks to transfer current propagation technology to the flower growers, and to encourage the growers to adopt tissue culture planting materials to enhance their productivity. The use of tissue culture techniques and other modern techniques can have a considerable impact on agricultural productivity.

“The Biotechnology and Nuclear Agriculture Research Institute of the GAEC has several ways it could assist flower growers, especially in the application of tissue culture and mutation induction techniques for rapid propagation, multiplication and continuous supply of planting materials,” said Ms Asare. “Furthermore, through the use of mutation induction, flowers with different aesthetic features can be produced by the Institute to boost the flower industry.”
Ms Asare noted that government has plans to expand flower production in Ghana for both new and old export markets. “The application of tissue culture techniques is key to achieving this vision within a short period time,” she said.

The training of the flower growers also included records and book keeping, entrepreneurship, and social media marketing – all skills which will assist the flower growers to carry out their businesses effectively.


IAEA Approves Nuclear, Cancer Treatment Reactor Projects for Nigeria

The International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) has given Nigeria the go ahead to embark on five critical projects in nuclear power energy, cancer management, livestock production, governmental and regulatory infrastructure for nuclear and radiation safety and radiation oncology.

The projects due to commence in 2020, were approved under the Country Programme Framework document.

The Minister of Science and Technology, Dr Ogbonnaya Onu, made the announcement yesterday at the ministerial conference on nuclear science and technology in Vienna, Austria.

Onu, who led the Nigeria delegation, said the designs of these projects had been completed and submitted to the IAEA for review. Those on the delegation included, Permanent Secretary Political & Economic Affairs Office.

OSGF ,Gabriel Aduda, Nigeria’s Ambassador to Austria and Slovakia, Vivian Okeke, Chairman Nigeria Atomic Energy Commission, Professor S.P Mallam and Director Renewable Energy, Ministry of Science and Technology, Abbas Gunmi.

Last month, both Nigeria and IAEA signed the Country Programme Framework document for 2018-2023 cycle at the 62nd Session of the IAEA General Conference also in Vienna.

Onu said the document identified the priority areas of Nigeria’s partnership with the agency in a clear and practical fashion. The signing of the document is a precursor to the commencement of additional national projects under the 2020-2021 Technical Cooperation Cycle and beyond.

The minister disclosed that Nigeria’s arrangements towards the acquisition of a multi-purpose research reactor had reached an advanced stage, expressing hope that the acquisition will contribute to several developmental activities in the country in the provision of radiopharmaceuticals to support cancer diagnosis and treatment and research and training.

“Nigeria believes that steady electricity is a key element in the development of any nation. On this premise, Nigeria’s quest for the generation of electricity from nuclear resources cannot come at a better time especially with the dwindling of other energy resources and global efforts at mitigating climate change through the use of environmentally friendly technologies including nuclear. Meticulous planning and discussions are already ongoing towards Nigeria’s acquisition of her first nuclear power plant,” Onu said.

He expressed optimism that Nigeria’s Research Reactor, which was commissioned in 2004 with enriched uranium, will reach full power this week.

He said the reactor had proved very useful in mineral exploration and processing and the agricultural sector in soil fertility analysis, was recently successfully converted from the use of HEU to LEU attaining criticality early this month.

He also expressed Nigeria appreciation to IAEA in the provision of facilities and training of the needed manpower for the diagnosis and management of cancer in country.

He said the IAEA led training programmes had produced many qualified Nuclear Medicine Physicians, Radiation Oncologists, Radiographers, Medical Physicists and numerous other relevant professionals that are spread across the tertiary health institutions in the country.


School of Physical and Mathematical Sciences and School of Nuclear and Allied Sciences Celebrate UG @ 70

The School of Physical and Mathematical Sciences (SPMS) and the School of Nuclear and Allied Sciences (SNAS) held an opening ceremony on October 22, 2018 at the Great Hall to begin a week-long celebration marking the University’s 70th Anniversary.

The ceremony was well attended by industry players, faculty, staff and students of both Schools. Also present was Prof. Onwona-Agyeman, Dean of School of Engineering Sciences, and Prof. George Oduro Nkansah, Director of the Institute of Applied Science and Technology. The special guests included Prof. B. J. B. Nyarko, Director General of Ghana Atomic Energy Commission, Hon. Dr. Kwame Ampofo, Former Board Chair of the Energy Commission, Mr. Charles Amoako, Deputy Director General (Operations), Ghana Standards Authority, Dr. Paul Osei Ofosu, Ghana Standards Authority, Madam Lucy Dzandu, Institute for Scientific and Technological Information (INSTI), and Mr. Wisdom Ahiataku-Togobo, Ministry of Energy.

In his welcome address, the Acting Dean of SPMS, Prof. Robert Kingsford-Adaboh, said the theme for the celebration, “UG @ 70: Celebrating Excellence, Shaping Futures” emphasized the role of the University in the development of the country. He pointed out some of the University’s achievements such as being the best in West Africa, and winning several grants for cutting-edge research. He asked for increased support for the University, to develop the critical human resource needed for the country’s scientific and technological advancement.

The opening ceremony which was chaired by Prof. B. J. B. Nyarko, Director General of Ghana Atomic Energy Commission (GAEC) had two presentations. Dr. Stephen Yamoah of SNAS spoke on, “Nuclear Power in Ghana’s Energy Mix” while Dr. Ezekiel Nortey of the Department of Statistics and Actuarial Science gave a presentation on “Ghana Beyond Aid, the Role of Quality Data”.

In his closing remarks, the Chairman noted that the two topics treated were closely linked since data management was crucial in the field of nuclear energy. There were goodwill messages from the special guests who congratulated both Schools for their contributions over the years. They wished the University more years of innovation and excellence.


Ghana commemorates International Day of Medical Physics

The Ghana Society for Medical Physics has commemorated the 2018 International Day of Medical Physics, with a seminar in Accra on the theme: “Medical Physics for Patient Benefit”.

The annual event is celebrated on November 7, on the birthday of Marie Curie, a popular female scientist who pioneered research in radiation.

It seeks to raise public awareness about the critical role that medical physicists play within the healthcare delivery system.

Mr George Felix Acquah, the Head of Medical Physics, at the Sweden Ghana Medical Centre, (SGMC), a cancer treatment facility, who delivered the keynote address, explained that the unique profession dealt with the application of physics principles for the diagnosis and treatment of diseases.

He said since the diagnosis and treatment of diseases such as cancers usually involved the use of radiation-emitting equipment, medical physicists were employed in the clinical fields of radiotherapy, diagnostic radiology and nuclear medicine, with the primary responsibility of ensuring safety in the use of radiation for healthcare in hospitals.

They are responsible for the accurate calibration, management and operation of those equipment to help achieve a particular diagnostic or treatment goal in radiation medicine.

Mr Acquah said the theme was sensitive and dear to the hearts of medical physicists, considering their indispensable role as key partners of the healthcare team.

He, therefore, encouraged radiotherapy, diagnostic radiology and nuclear medicine centres in Ghana to employ at least one Medical Physicist who would ensure that patients were diagnosed and treated with radiation in a safe manner.

Mr Acquah indicated that cancer prevalence has steadily increased worldwide, with less developed countries being the most affected, and called on the Government to step up efforts at establishing more well- equipped centres for the diagnosis and treatment of cancers.

Mr Eric Addison, the President of the Ghana Society for Medical Physics, said in spite of the critical role that medical physicists played within the healthcare system, they had been relatively less visible to members of the public, compared to other health professionals.

He encouraged them to be active and engage in activities that would make them more visible in the healthcare system of the country.

He called on the Government to take urgent steps to properly place medical physicists in the health structure of Ghana and upgrade their salaries to make the profession more attractive to young scientists.

Mr Addison said the Ghana Society for Medical Physics has 84 members and six regional organisations.

The minimum requirement to qualify as a Medical Physicist is a Master of Science Degree in Medical Physics and a two-year clinical internship, he said, and encouraged more scientists to opt for such courses, to boost the human resource base.

Dr. Francis Hasford, the Head of the Medical Physics Department at the University of Ghana, School of Nuclear and Allied Sciences (SNAS), and also the Secretary General of the Federation of African Medical Physics Organizations (FAMPO), said professional education was paramount in the healthcare delivery system.

He said Ghana had been voted as the headquarters of the FAMPO, placing in her hands a more trusted role to lead Africa in the progress of Medical Physics for effective healthcare delivery.

Dr Elvis Tiburu, the Head of the Biomedical Engineering Department, University of Ghana, speaking on the critical role that medical instrumentation played in patient care and management, said he was worried about the current state of the equipment in the nation’s health facilities, most of which had broken down with little or no hope of securing their spare parts for repairs.

He encouraged the Government and other stakeholder agencies to support biomedical engineers and equip them to use locally available materials to fabricate some of the hospital equipment that were otherwise expensive to purchase from overseas.

He suggested a multi-disciplinary research study and engagement of experts in the procurement of medical equipment into the country’s hospitals.

Professor John H. Amuasi, who chaired the occasion, encouraged participants from the University of Ghana, the Kwame Nkrumah University of Science and Technology, and the Korle-Bu and Okomfo Anokye Teaching hospitals to take advantage of the platform to raise the needed awareness about Medical Physics in their communities.