UGANDA—The Atomic Energy Council (AEC), Uganda’s atomic energy regulator, has warned at least 30 health facilities in the central area against employing radiation sources without a license, which might threaten the lives of patients and operators.
The AEC is charged with regulating the peaceful application and control of ionizing radiation for the protection and safety of society and the environment from the threats posed by ionizing radiation.
Uganda now employs atomic energy in the medical, industrial, security, and agricultural sectors, among others.
The regulator bans any person from acquiring, possessing, operating, installing, commissioning, transporting, disposing of, modifying, manufacturing, or engaging in any conduct involving the application of atomic energy unless authorized.
This information became public after the agency issued a public notice on December 15, 2023, requesting that non-compliant establishments seek clearance and implement the minimum radiation safety measures.
The regulator stated in this notice that the non-compliant establishments, which included clinics and hospitals, used radiation-emitting devices such as mobile, portable, and fixed x-ray machines, computed tomography x-ray machines, and intraoral dental x-ray machines.
Furthermore, Mr Noah Deogratias Luwalira, the AEC’s chief executive officer and secretary, stated that the operators’ licenses had expired and that they needed to be renewed immediately.
He went on to say that Entebbe Regional Referral Hospital, Mityana General Hospital, Mulago Specialized Women and Neonatal Hospital, Max Dental Clinic Nakasero, Masaka Regional Referral Hospital, Butenga Health Centre IV, and Rakai Hospital all have expired licenses.
The notice stated that the country had 317 licensed facilities that employ radiation sources, of which 104 had expired licences.
The regulator’s notification recommended the public seek services only from facilities authorized by the Atomic Energy Council to operate radiation-generating devices, as they would have met the minimum or basic radiation safety requirements for radiation protection.
Furthermore, the public is urged to report any facility operating radiation-generating devices or machines without Atomic Energy Council licenses, as well as any abandoned radioactive sources.
However, the notice elicited a varied reaction from the management of the listed health facilities, who claimed that it was difficult to own and operate radio-generating instruments without AEC authorization.
The administrator of Masaka Regional Referral Hospital pointed out that the hospital had one functional x-ray machine that has been licensed by the council and inquired why the facility was listed as operating unlicensed x-ray machines.
Dr. Stephen Kyambadde, director of Entebbe Regional Referral Hospital, confirmed that he had not seen the notification and vowed to respond once the facility had a copy of it.
The regulator conducts frequent inspections to monitor the usage of equipment that regerates radiation for the safety of users at registered institutions, including health units, in order to avoid health-related hazards from exposure.