The Ghana Atomic Energy Commission (GAEC) on Monday inaugurated its upgraded gamma irradiation facility, at the Radiation Technology Centre (RTC), under the Biotechnology and Nuclear Agriculture Research Institute (BINARI).
Professor Edward Akaho, Director-General of GAEC, said the centre established in 1994 had a low capacity in terms of processing agro-products and medical supplies and therefore could not meet the required market competition.
He said to enhance its performance the Commission sought for assistance from Export Development Investment Fund (EDIF), that provided GH¢800,000 to help upgrade the facility for commercial purposes.
Prof. Akaho explained that 50 per cent of the funding would be in the form of grant while the remaining 50 per cent would be re-paid by the Commission.
He said BINARI; one of the four institutes under GAEC, was responsible for undertaking researches into post-harvest management of agricultural products and improvement in hygienic quality of medical products.
It had undertaken focused and problem solving research over the past decade, the outcome of which was now ready for application in the health, agriculture and trade sectors of the economy.
Prof. Akaho said with the upgraded facility, it was expected to improve upon the efficiency, ensure safety of medical supplies and promote food security in the country.
He gave the assurance that by adhering to best practices, gamma radiation did not adversely affect quality of products so treated.
Prof. Akaho said it had long been proven that exposure to ethylene oxide used in the sterilisation of medical products predisposes man to cancer, therefore for sometime now GAEC had been collaborating with the Ministry of Health in building capacity for cancer control and management in Ghana.
“We are therefore, strongly opposed to the use of ethylene oxide in the treatment of any kind of product,” adding “the safer method is radiation treatment which is approved by the World Health Organisation, Food and Agriculture Organisation, the Ghana Standards Board and the Food and Drugs Board,” he said.
He recommended that Ghana joined other countries in banning the use of ethylene oxide for medical sterilisation and instead encourage the use of radiation.
Ms Sherry Ayittey, Minister of Environment, Science and Technology (MEST), expressed the hope that the centre would be the driving force of the nation’s development, saying the development of every nation depended on the ability of its citizenry to apply science and technology to their benefit.
She said MEST had facilitated the ratification of various legislations which included the Biosafety Bill to ensure the use of scientific technological transfer in national development.
Ms Ayittey noted that though the Commission played a significant role in various areas of the economy, its role was not visible enough to the public and therefore urged GAEC to launch a public education on the activities of the centre to derive the needed patronage to enable it service the EDIF loan.
Mr Abraham Adu-Gyamfi, Manager, Radiation Technology Centre, (RTC), said services were now opened to the public and was very affordable compared to prices of similar service at other facilities.
He called on local food producers including farmers as well as exporters to make good use of the facility to prevent post harvest losses, enhance the quality of products for export and further ensure safety in the country’s health system.