Saturday, September 30, 2017

BETTER HEALTH, WATER AND FOOD FOR TANZANIA WITH THE HELP OF NUCLEAR TECHNOLOGIES AND INTERNATIONAL PARTNERS


Science and technological innovations play a fundamental role in assisting African leaders to root causes of poverty, hunger and climate change. It is therefore no surprise that nuclear science and innovative nuclear technologies are playing a major role in providing viable solutions to help achieve these targets. It is well known globally that nuclear technologies have much to offer in the fight against poverty, hunger, dread diseases, and water shortages, not to mention its ability to provide sustainable and environmentally friendly electricity.

Let’s take a closer look these various applications.

Nuclear medicine helps millions of people across the globe to successfully fight cancer and has reducedthe mortality rate of non-communicable diseases by one third. Moreover, nuclear science centers and research facilities are indispensable in the production of radioisotopes which are used in complex medical treatments. African countries have already made significant steps in nuclear science development under the guidance of the United Nation’s International Atomic Energy Authority (IAEA) and its key member states.

For example, in Zambia “people can access treatment locally for a fraction of the cost they would pay by travelling outside the country. More than 17,000 new cases of cancer have been diagnosed and treated over the last 10 years,” said MulapeKanduza, Chief
medical physicist of the Cancer Diseases Hospital (CDH) in Lusaka.“Without the assistance of the IAEA, it would have been very difficult for us to set up a highly technical centre like this one and care for so many patients,” said Dr Lewis Banda, the CDH’s Senior Medical Superintendent.

IAEA provides training and seminars to improve cancer management across the globe.With the help of nuclear technologies Tanzanian doctors can now deliver more precise radiation treatment to patients with oncological diseases using modern scanning methods previously not available in the region. These new methods make it possible to treat more patients than before with more accuracy.

“We now have the skills to more fully understand the extent of a tumour and ultimately plan better and more precise treatment for our patients,” said Dr Mark Mseti, a radiation oncologist at the Ocean Road Cancer Institute in Dar es Salaam, which receives technical support and equipment through the IAEA. Previously, DrMseti participated in IAEA training on 3D planning for target volume definition and contouring for radiotherapy.

Another issue is water supply. As the population continues to grow rapidly in emerging countries, the availability of potable water remains one of the most pressing issues for the mankind. Innovativenuclear technologies can be used to desalinate ocean wateror to reducecontaminants in contaminated water, making it safe to use.

Water purification and desalination can be of huge benefit to Tanzania, where it is difficult for many people in arid regions to access clean water. Implementation of these technologies is of high importance for the East African country where nearly 23 million people don’t have full access to safe potable water.

And there is a huge issue of food supply. For decades African nations have suffered the devastating consequences caused by the tsetse fly. According to the United Nations (UN) Food and Agriculture Organization the bloodsucking insect kills more than three
million head of livestock in sub-Saharan Africa every year, resulting in more than US $4 billion in losses in region. With the help of nuclear technologies Tanzanian island of Zanzibar have already won the battle against the tsetse fly thanks to the nuclear based sterile insect technique (SIT).Since the eradication of the tsetse fly in 2014 socio-economic studies have shown that the total number of all cattle breeds have increase by roughly 38%.Milk production has nearly doubled from 4.6 to 10 liters after the introduction of nuclear based techniques. Radiation has proved to be an effective solution for the eradication of many infectious insects on almost every continent on Earth. SIT has been applied to hundreds of species of fruit flies, moths, mosquitoes and screwworm flies.

And neighboring Zambia has drastically increased its maize and other crop varieties productivity using nuclear techniques to make them more resistant to external factors. Moreover, nuclear technologies not only made it possible to increase crop productivity but at the same time reduced negative environmental effects of other agricultural practices. Now Zambian farmers enjoy better harvests despite previous downfalls due to climate change and severe droughts.

It is worth noting that Zambia is well on the way of building its own multipurpose nuclear scientific center with the help of foreign partners like IAEA and Russian nuclear corporation Rosatom.Viktor Polikarpov, Rosatom Regional Vice President for Sub-Saharan Africa, notes: “Radiation treatment of food products is one of the various applications of the state-of-the-art radiation technologies offered by Rosatom to its foreign partners. Today about 515 radiation facilities created with the use of Russian technologies are in operation in 22 countries worldwide, including the UK, France, Germany, Finland, Japan, China, South Korea and India”.

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