Bongani Ndlovu, Chronicle Reporter
THE Radiation Protection Authority of Zimbabwe (RPAZ) yesterday joined the rest of the world in celebrating World Patient Safety Day under the theme: “Safe Maternal and new-born care.”
RPAZ has embraced the World Health Organisation’s urge to “act now for safe and respectful childbirth,” as well as Government’s strategic thrust towards improving the quality of life for citizens.
In a statement, RPAZ corporate communications officer, Mr Shingirai Huni said in fulfilment of the mandate of protecting people and the environment from harmful effects of radiation, RPAZ recognises the need to ensure protection of patients which includes pregnant women.
“Prenatal radiation exposure is the exposure of a foetus to radiation. This could occur when a pregnant mother’s abdomen is exposed to radiation for diagnostic or therapeutic purposes. The possibility of severe health effects depends on the gestational age of the foetus at the time of exposure and the amount of radiation it is exposed to.
Foetuses are particularly sensitive to radiation during their early development, between weeks two and 18 of pregnancy,” said Mr Huni.
He said expectant mothers are advised to ask their doctors about the dangers of exposing their unborn babies to radiation.
“The health consequences can be severe, even at radiation doses considered too low for the mother. The consequences can include stunted growth, deformities, abnormal brain function, or cancer that may develop sometime later in life. Pregnant women should consult with their physicians if they have any concern about radiation exposure to their foetus,” said Mr Huni.
He went on to list what RPAZ has done to protect patients, such as inspecting and grading of facilities as well as training of radiation safety officers.
“A graded approach is used for inspecting facilities with radiation equipment and radioactive sources including diagnostic radiology, nuclear medicine and radiotherapy facilities. Inspections are conducted to verify whether facilities meet radiation safety requirements, equipment being used meets quality control requirements, facilities have adequately trained and qualified personnel and A graded approach to enforcements to ensure correction of identified non-compliances at facilities,” he said.
“Training of Radiation Safety Officers who have a key role to play in ensuring radiation safety requirements are met at facilities. Raising awareness to members of the public at strategic events like the Zimbabwe International Trade Fair, Harare Agricultural Show and health expos. All the strides are crucial in ensuring patient safety which also includes safety of pregnant patients leading to delivery of healthy babies.” — @bonganinkunzi – The Chronicle