Delivering a radiation protection dividend: systemic capacity-building for the radiation safety profession in Africa
Many African countries planning to enter the nuclear energy “family” have little or no experience of meeting associated radiation safety demands, whether operational or regulatory. Uses of radiation in medicine in the continent, whether for diagnostic or clinical purposes, are rapidly growing while the costs of equipment, and hence of access to services, are falling fast. In consequence, many patients and healthcare workers are facing a wide array of unfamiliar challenges, both operational and ethical, without any formal regulatory or professional framework for managing them safely. This, combined with heighted awareness of safety issues post Fukushima, means the already intense pressure on radiation safety professionals in such domains as NORM industries and security threatens to reach breaking point. A systematic competency-based capacity-building programme for RP professionals in Africa is required (Resolution of the Third AFRIRPA13 Regional Conference, Nairobi, September 2010). The goal is to meet recruitment and HR needs in the rapidly emerging radiation safety sector, while also addressing stakeholder concerns in respect of promoting and meeting professional and ethical standards. The desired outcome is an RP “dividend” to society as a whole. A curriculum model is presented, aligned to safety procedures and best practices such as Safety Integrity Level and Layer of Protection analysis; it emphasizes proactive risk communication both with direct and indirect stakeholders; and it outlines disciplinary options and procedures for managers and responsible persons for dealing with unsafe or dangerous behavior at work. This paper reports on progress to date. It presents a five-tier development pathway starting from a generic foundation course, suitable for all RP professionals, accompanied by specialist courses by domain, activity or industry. Delivery options are discussed. Part of the content has already been developed and delivered as MiLoRAD, based on extensive experience training radiation safety personnel in the United States.
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