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BILL IN SECOND READING

Strict X-ray, CT scan rules over cancer risk

Law would prevent development, production, delivery of biological, chemical and nuclear weapons.

In Summary

• Beyond certain thresholds, radiation can cause gene mutation, cancer, cataracts, destruction of bones and blood cells and death.

• National referral hospitals record an average of 800 to 1,000 X-ray patients every day.

Health CS Sicily Kariuki at nuclear waste disposal facility at Oloolua on Tuesday.
RADIATION: Health CS Sicily Kariuki at nuclear waste disposal facility at Oloolua on Tuesday.
Image: COURTESY

Health facilities may be subjected to more stringent rules before using X-rays and other radiation equipment because of the risk of cancer. 

Medics may also be required to educate patients on the benefits and risks before imaging.

The rules, contained in the Nuclear Regulatory Bill, 2018, were drafted as the country increasingly uses X-ray technology and computerised tomography (CT).

 

"National referral hospitals alone record an average of 800 to 1,000 X-ray patients every day," Health Cabinet Secretary Sicily Kariuki said while inaugurating the Radiation Protection Board.

Medical use of radiation accounts for 98 per cent of the population dose from all artificial sources and represents 20 per cent of the total population exposure.

“We shall expect nothing but regular quality assurance measures and strengthened oversight of all radiation-related facilities and activities," the cs said on Tuesday.

Beyond certain thresholds, radiation can cause gene mutation, cancer, cataracts, destruction of bones and blood cells and death.

The bill repeals the current Radiation Protection Act of 1982 and enhances the national legal and regulatory regime to be on par with contemporary standards, Kariuki said. 

It is in the second reading in Parliament.

"Radiation has been found to be beneficial on the one hand and harmful on the other. It is encountered in everyday activities in various forms and different intensities," Kariuki said.

 

The proposed law will also prevent the design, development, production, and delivery of biological, chemical and nuclear weapons.

A 2014 study,'Strategic Analysis of Medical Imaging Industry in Kenya' by Frost & Sullivan, shows that the X-ray market in Kenya generated  $25.3 million in 2007 and $43.1 million in 2014.

The ministry introduced the 15-member radiation board chaired by Prof Erastus Gatebe.

The board will regulate the peaceful use of ionising radiation, ensure the protection of occupationally exposed workers, and patients undergoing medical radiation procedures, among others.

The ministry also renamed the Central Radioactive Waste Processing Facility as the Oloolua National Laboratory and Regional Centre for Radiation Safety and Nuclear Security."

The facility is for disposal of radioactive waste and intercepted radioactive or nuclear materials. Construction began in 2007.

Kenya is a reference centre in radiation protection, nuclear security, and nuclear safeguards.

It hosts the regional secretariat of the European Union CBRN Risk-Mitigation Centre of Excellence Initiative for the Eastern and Central Africa Region, with 11 participating countries.

(Edited by V. Graham)