Friday 18th August, PORT MORESBEY: An International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) engaged expert, under an official mission to assess the status of the Radiation Safety and Control Authority in PNG, has visited the construction site of the cancer treatment facility at Port Moresby General Hospital on Thursday (17th of August).

The expert was accompanied by Acting Executive Manager for Radiation safety and Control Authority Mr Reuben Harokaveh.

IAEA expert, Mr Solomon Getachew, who is the Director-General of the Regulatory Body of Ethiopia said; “As per the information provided by the project manager, the construction for the bunker seems fine from observation. But radiation leakage will be determined once the facility is completed. If all is well, NISIT will issue operational license based on the results of review and assessment. The detail shielding calculations and specifications need to be submitted to the regulatory body (NISIT).”

Mr Getachew said it was necessary for the regulator, hospital, building contractor and stakeholders to work together to complete this important facility as it will assist many cancer patients.

“Coordinating is vital, and all parties should work hand in hand to serve the public. Rules and regulations are vital to abide by for the wellbeing and safety of people.”

NISIT, as part of its regulatory role, will ensure that the facility meets the regulatory requirements for radiation safety.

Before visiting the site, they were met by the hospital Chief Executive Officer Dr Paki Molumi, Dr Peter Olali –Head of Cancer treatment services at the hospital, Construction Manager Mr Jonathan Domingo, and other senior management hospital staff for a brief meet.

Construction Manager Mr Domingo later led the visiting team to the construction site and explained to Mr Getachewand Mr Harokaveh that all the materials used to build the facility were imported from Australia and meets the specific required standards for the construction of a bunker.

Mr Harokaveh stated that: “It’s important to have the regulatory body (NISIT) visit the facility during its construction phase to ensure that the bunker meets the radiation shielding requirements prior to licensing.

“If we test the facility after the construction and detect radiation leakage, that might mean that the bunker will have to be modified again.

”For the safety of people, health workers and cancer patients receiving treatment, the new cancer treatment facility must be built to shield the radiation emitted from the linear accelerator (LINAC).”

The LINAC generates high radiation dose, and radiation safety in healthcare is the goal of minimising the exposure of healthcare workers, patients, and the public to harmful effects of radiation.

Dr Peter Olali – Head of Cancer services at Port Moresby General Hospital,said: “This is an important visit for the hospital as these are safety officers coming to ensure that this facility meets standards and fulfils to function as a cancer treatment center.

“Radiation helps to treat cancer, but it can also be harmful and damage normal cells when safety measures are not applied.

“Exposure to radiation leakage and too much radiation can harm people’s health.