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Most State healthcare centres not abiding by radiation safety norms
AJIT PATOWARY

File photo of a hand of an untrained X-ray worker.
 GUWAHATI, May 31 - A PhD research carried out by a State’s nuclear medicine scholar has revealed a horrible state of affairs in the State as far as radiation safety-related matters are concerned.

Though there are hundreds of healthcare institutes in the State with X-ray and CT scan facilities, most of them are allegedly not abiding by the norms of the Atomic Energy Regulatory Board (AERB) of the country.

Kandarpa Saikia, a postgraduate from the Mumbai-based Bhaba Atomic Research Centre (BARC), in nuclear medicine science and radiation safety, who carried out the above study, has found that 77 per cent of both the Government and the private healthcare centres in the State having such facilities and covered by him, have failed to get themselves registered under the e-Licensing of Radiation Applications (e-LORA). He covered 131 of these institutes to carry out his research.

Of them, 29 per cent are Government hospitals and 71 per cent are private hospitals and diagnostic centres. Of these private hospitals and diagnostic centres, only 20 per cent are registered under e-LORA. But only three per cent of the Government hospitals are registered under e-LORA.

Moreover, 42 per cent of the radiographers engaged in the above healthcare centres have no idea about e-LORA registration and the radiation safety regulations of the AERB. Saikia is at present head of the city-based nuclear medicine and PET CT centre Nucleomed.

Saikia maintained that there is a need to enhance the knowledge and awareness of the healthcare institutes of the State on the need to get themselves registered under e-LORA for ensuring safety of their radiation workers and the patients. The State should also constitute a State Atomic Energy Regulatory Board to monitor the issues connected with radiation safety norms.

Radiation safety codes are prepared as per internationally accepted norms. In this regard, the names of International Council for Radiation Protection (ICRP), National Council on Radiation Protection and Measurements (NCRP), International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) may be mentioned.

In India, AERB is the regulatory authority for radiation safety-related codes.

Ionising radiation in the healthcare system plays a significant part in modern diagnosis. During World War-I, X-ray was used widely for medical purposes and such application of X-ray resulted in many leukaemia and anaemia cases among those who administered the ionising radiation doses. The patients and medical imaging physicians received ionising radiation doses suspected to be at much higher rates than the safe ones.

X-ray and CT scan are the devices used for diagnostic purposes in different diseases. They emit X-ray which is called ionising radiation and is capable of altering the DNA structure of human cells if exposed for a long time. For example, Rontgen, who discovered X-ray, died of lung cancer though he was not a smoker. Madam Curie, who discovered radium, died of aplastic anaemia. American socialite Eben Byers died in 1932 after ingesting radiation over the course of several years. The list can be lengthened further to cite the examples of the adverse impacts of X-ray, said Saikia.

In the State, though there is no data as to how many X-ray or CT scan application cases are done in a year, it is believed that the number of such cases would touch several lakh. There is an increase in the number of estimated figure of such cases and it is attributed to increased installation of X-ray equipment in Government and private sector healthcare institutes and the rapid rise in the request and use of radiographic images in the diagnosis, treatment and management of many diseases. But there is a general lack of awareness about the safety measures needed to be adopted in such institutes, said Saikia.

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