MINISTRY OF HEALTH OKAY WITH RATIFICATION OF TREATY BANNING NUCLEAR WEAPONS

Dr Rose Mary Byanyima

BY GODFREY OLUKYA AND RICHARD DRASIMAKU

KAMPALA: WEDNESDAY, NOVEMBER 24, 2021

The ministry of health has said it is okay with parliament’s move to approve a motion seeking for ratification of a treaty on prohibition of nuclear weapons.

The motion was tabled by Bardege-Layibi Division county Member of Parliament, Martin Ojara Mapenduz,i asking the government to sign and ratify the treaty on prohibition of nuclear weapons since Uganda is one of the 122 countries that formulated this treaty.

While appearing before the Foreign Affairs committee which is handling the motion, the deputy director Mulago National Referral Hospital who is also the senior consultant Radiologist, Dr Rose Mary Byanyima together with the commissioner in-charge of clinical services at the ministry of Health, Dr Jackson Amone, told the committee that the treaty is only for prohibition of nuclear weapons but does not affect Uganda to use radiation material for treatment and nuclear medicine.

“In health we are looking at the peaceful applications of nuclear energy and the treaty is on prohibition of nuclear weapons,” said Dr Byanyima.

She explained that the treaty does not prohibit the use of nuclear material in the peaceful applications, something Uganda is pursuing through policy formulation, seeking international partnerships, human resource development and even formulation of nuclear communication strategy.

“For us we will be protected because we always acquire these materials for peaceful applications and the two are the examples they gave- nuclear medicine and radio therapy and those facilities are on Mulago hill,” Dr Byanyima emphasized.

Additionally, information from the department of nuclear energy in the ministry of energy and mineral development indicates that Uganda is actively pursuing utilization of its uranium deposits for electricity generation and application of nuclear technology in industry, medicine and agriculture.

Accordingly a mutual agreement on technical cooperation programme on peaceful use of nuclear energy was signed between the government and the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) on September 19, 2019 in Vienna, Austria.

The aim is to build national capacity for introduction of nuclear power, uranium and geothermal resource development, diagnosis of diseases, cancer management, water resource management, pollution control, improving agricultural production and productivity, pest and diseases control, and food and feed safety.

The agreement with IAEA followed the memorandum of understanding between China National Nuclear Cooperation (CNNC) and the Ministry of Energy signed in May 2018 and an earlier memorandum between the Ministry of Energy and the Russian State Atomic Energy Corporation (ROSATOM) on cooperation in the use of atomic energy for peaceful purposes in June, 2017.

The government also entered into a formal Inter-Governmental Agreement (IGA) with the Russian Federation on peaceful use of nuclear energy on September 17, 2019 in Vienna, Austria.

The memo established a framework for cooperation on development and operation of nuclear power plants and research reactor, human resource development, nuclear safety, security safeguards and radiation protection.

Since then, pre-feasibility studies for construction of 2000 MW nuclear power plant have been completed with potential sites for nuclear power development identified in Buyende, Nakasongola, Kassanda, Kiruhura and Lamwo districts.

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