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30.03.2006 General News

Atomic Energy Commission appeals for Govt support

By GNA

Accra, March 30, GNA - The Ghana Atomic Energy Commission (GAEC), which provides nuclear energy and biotechnology techniques for sustainable development, on Thursday appealed to the Government to support its programmes to enable it to improve its services. Professor Edward H. K. Akaho, Director-General of the Commission, told the Minister of Information, Dan Botwe during a familiarization tour of the Commission that the support the Commission was receiving from the Government was inadequate.

GAEC handles nuclear science and technology, addresses problems of health, industry, agriculture and environment.

He said there was the need to combine science, politics and diplomacy to build a strong foundation for the expanded use of nuclear technology in Ghana and West Africa.

Professor Akaho said national nuclear power policy should be included in the energy mix to serve as a basis for sustainable energy development, policy decision and creation of public awareness.

"This would solve the Research and Development (R&D) problem that the Commission is facing and to make the public benefit from most of the sustainable agricultural and industrial programmes the Commission is undertaking."

He said another major problem of the Commission was lack of staff to handle most of the scientific work. The staff strength of 530 needed to be increased as early as possible to meet increasing demands, he said.

Professor Akaho said in line with this, the Commission in collaboration with the University of Ghana and the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) had established a Graduate School of Nuclear and Allied Sciences to train nuclear expertise to replace the ageing workforce.

The School has been established for the M. Phil and PhD programmes in Medical Physics, Applied Nuclear Physics, Nuclear and Radiochemistry, Radiation Protection, Nuclear Agriculture and Radiation Processing and Nuclear Engineering.

The tour took the Minster and his entourage to the Commission's major research equipment, which included the 30 Kw Research Reactor, Gamma Irradiation Facility, the two Radiotherapy and Nuclear Medicine Centres, Tissue Culture and Molecular Biology, X-Ray Fluorescence Equipment and the Clinical and Cellular Chemistry Laboratory for tuberculosis research.

Dr Samuel Anim-Sampong, Acting Reactor Manager, said the 6.5 metre deep reactor was not used for the manufacture of atomic bombs but served as the major tool for scientific research and development by local staff and others from Africa.

The Commission has also established two National Radiotherapy and Nuclear Medicine Centres at Korle-Bu and Komfo Anokye Teaching Hospitals, which rendered services to patients from Ghana and surrounding West African Countries.

Its Gamma Irradiation Facility equipped with Cobolt-60 source is used for radiation treatment of food and medical products, which kill the micro-organism thus sterilizing the products.

Dr David Bansah of the Cellular and Clinical Service Department, which uses radiochemical techniques to manage communicable diseases, said there was a multi drug resistance TB in the country at the moment and warned the public against bovine TB in raw cow milk.

He said the centre could use 48 hours instead of the eight days used in most hospitals to detect the virus adding that the lack of equipment had been a major problem to the Centre.

Mr Botwe called on the media to help to publicize the activities of the Commission to create the awareness it needed to expand. 30 March 06

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