The largest health institution in the Midlands, Gweru Provincial Hospital, has sent an SOS, following calls by the Radiation Protection Authority of Zimbabwe (RPAZ) that citizens shun the referral centre.
In a statement issued out early March, RPAZ warned those who approached the hospital for medical assistance to do so so at their own risk since the hospital had not registered its radiation equipment with the statutory body.
Radiation occur when electromagnetic waves that carry energy from a source travel through space and may be able to penetrate various materials. There are two types of radiation: non-ionizing and ionizing radiation. Light, radio waves, cellphone waves and microwaves are examples of non-ionizing radiation.
Ionizing radiation is produced by unstable atoms. Atoms with unstable nuclei are said to be radioactive. In order to reach stability, these atoms give off, or emit, the excess energy or mass. These emissions are called radiation. Radiation can also be produced by high voltage devices, for example, x-ray machines.
Established through an Act of Parliament, Radiation Protection Act Chapter 15:15 of 2004, RPAZ’s mandate is to protect people and the environment against the harmful effects of radiation.
Responding to the advertorial that blacklisted the institution in The Sunday Mail last month, GPH medical superintendent Dr Fabian Mashingaidze said his institution could not ‘easily afford’ yearly licensing fees to pay RPAZ.
Of late the hospital has been at the receiving end of medical financial assistance, with Unki Platinum Mine last year handing over a world class, fully-equipped casualty department worth $1million.
The mining concern’s general manager Walter Nemasasi is also the hospital’s management board chairman.
Apart from the GPH and Thornhill Airbase hospital, dentist Dr MB Seyani’s surgery, Sino Zimbabwe Cement Company, and ZimAlloys were found wanting operating equipment that can harm citizens via ionizing radiation.
The type of radiation can cause cancer and heritable effects involving either cancer development in exposed individuals.
Here is the rest of Dr Mashingaidze’s response
“We are registered. The challenge is however the yearly licensing fees which the hospital cannot easily afford.
“We are currently engaging the board to come up with terms for payment to regularize the subscriptions.”