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World agency to look at ‘radiation’ patients
The International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) will soon be visiting Trinidad to examine 223 patients who were allegedly overexposed to radiation at the Brian Lara Cancer Treatment Centre in Woodbrook. Health Minister Dr Fuad Khan made the announcement yesterday, during the post-Cabinet news briefing at the Office of the Prime Minister in St Clair. Khan said the IAEA submitted a preliminary report following the situation at the centre in July.
According to Khan, the report stated “anything above ten per cent is considered over-radiation.” He said: “They have promised us to come at the end of November to look at the patients who were sent to the radiation facility and possibly look at whether there are any effects of over-radiation.” He said T&T would join the IAEA from January at a cost of $1 million. He did not state whether TT or US currency.
Asked if it were necessary to join, Khan said there were many benefits. “A simple CT Scan is also covered by the agency’s regulations and they assist the members and member countries in regulating and assisting the surveillance as well as treatment plans and protocols for countries and it is necessary because initially, if you look at X-rays that carry a high risk of radiation energy,” he said.
“So if somebody does about four or five X-rays a year for ten years and you start at a young age, you have a lot of exposure.” He said Cabinet had approved a national radiation protection policy document which emerged as a result of a working group for radiation protection. Khan said: “It was taken on board to develop certain ideas for radiation protection; codes of practice; establishing a Radiation Regulatory Authority to implement and enforce these regulations and applications for procedures for registration and licences of radiation users; management requirements for safe practices both in the public and private sector and developing rules, protocols and procedures pertaining to the handling, the storage, transportation and disposal of radiation sources.”
The policy also outlines protocols for dose limits for medical, occupational, public exposures; development of medical surveillance systems for radiation workers and penalties for non-compliance of radiation protection regulations, Khan said. He said the policy was the way forward in keeping with international standards.
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