25% mosquito breeding sites identified as source of malaria transmission at Kwabenya – GAEC

Research conducted by the Biotechnology and Nuclear Agriculture Research Institute (BNARI) of the Ghana Atomic Energy Commission (GAEC) has revealed that 25% of mosquito breeding sites in the Kwabenya area are home to Anopheles mosquitos, the main vectors of malaria.

Breeding sites around GAEC Community, Kwabenya-Musuku, Narhman (Bohye), and Kwabenya itself are among the 25% identified.

The Director of the Biotechnology and Nuclear Agriculture Research Institute (BNARI) of the Ghana Atomic Energy Commission (GAEC), Dr. Michael Osae, made this known when he shared the findings with the students and teachers of GAEC Basic School at GAEC’s annual Malaria Awareness Campaign at Kwabenya in Accra.

 

The research exercise began on April 28, 2022, and ended on May 10, 2022, as part of the one-month-long activities that marked the 2022 edition of the Malaria Awareness Campaign, which ended on May 31, 2022, with a public lecture on “Malaria and Malaria Mosquitoes”.

According to Dr. Osae, the study shows that the residents of Kwabenya and its environs are at risk of malaria because the mosquito species identified are competent vectors of human malaria.

“The remaining 75% of breeding sites were home to Culex and Aedes mosquitoes, also known as nuisance mosquitoes, which do not transmit malaria but do transmit other diseases that are not present in the country. They can, however, transmit yellow fever,” he explained.

Dr. Osae, therefore, recommended that residents of Kwabenya desilt the gutters, spray the mosquito breeding sites to kill the mosquito larvae, and, where applicable, get rid of the mosquito breeding sites entirely.

In another study conducted by BNARI during the same period on mosquito net ownership and usage in the Kwabenya community, Dr. Osae said it was found that 51% of the people do not have treated nets and only 63% of those who do sleep under them.

“We must all change our attitude towards how we think about mosquitoes and malaria. Your treated mosquito nets are not meant to fence your hencoop; please sleep in them to prevent malaria,” he stressed.

Speaking on the theme for the campaign “Harness Innovation to Reduce Malaria Disease Burden and Save Lives,” Dr. Osae said innovations have led to the development of a World Health Organization-approved Long-Lasting Insecticide Nets, which he described as “one of the best ways of preventing malaria as the net establishes a physical and chemical barrier against mosquitoes.”

On her part, the Municipal Chief Executive (MCE) of the Ga East Municipal Assembly, Hon. Elizabeth Kaakie Mann, said malaria remains a life-threatening disease, causing more than one million deaths each year.

She urged the public to avoid mosquito bites and reduce their risk of contracting malaria by keeping their surroundings clean and sleeping under treated mosquito nets.

“I will also recommend, especially to those who have not signed onto the National Health Insurance Scheme (NHIS), to do so as soon as possible since the scheme provides cover for malaria services at a low cost for holders of an NHIS card,” she added.

The campaign is an annual event that is aimed at empowering communities toward malaria prevention and control and helping solve the problem of malaria through research-driven solutions.

By Exornam Awudi & Raymond K. Baxey, CPRC/CCDContinue reading

IAEA Expert on nuclear technology for managing plastic waste visits Ghana

Dr. Chantara Thevy Ratnam, an International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) expert in Polymer Technology, is in Ghana on a fact-finding mission from May 16 to 20, 2022, to assess a project plan to manage plastic waste using nuclear technology.

Dr. Chantara Thevy Ratnam (IAEA Expert)

The project under the Technical Cooperation project of IAEA is dubbed: “NUTEC Plastics”, an initiative by the Ministry of Environment, Science, Technology and Innovation’s (MESTI) efforts, through the Ghana Atomic Energy Commission (GAEC) to tackle the menace of plastic waste in the country.

During her 5-day visit, Dr. Ratnam will meet with government officials, the project team    and tour selected laboratories at GAEC. This would be followed by a workshop with selected stakeholders in plastic production and waste management industry on Reutilizing and Recycling Polymeric Waste through Radiation Modification for the Production of Industrial Goods.

Dr. Harriet Danso-Abbeam, the project counterpart who is also a Senior Research Scientist at GAEC explained that the IAEA expert would tour some existing plastic recycling plant facilities as part of her activities.

“Ghana is one of four African countries that have been chosen by the IAEA to implement this project. The three other countries are South Africa, Kenya, and Morocco,” she added.

By Raymond K. Baxey & Mark Sarfo, CPRC/CCD

 

 

 

GAEC and Petroleum Commission explore areas of collaboration

The Ghana Atomic Energy Commission (GAEC) and the Petroleum Commission (PETROCOM) have met to explore how to collaborate on areas of mutual interest.

At a meeting between the authorities of the two institutions in Accra, the Director-General of GAEC, Prof. Samuel Boakye Dampare, said the visit was an opportunity for the two institutions to strengthen ties; “We can collaborate to manage naturally occurring radioactive materials (NORM) during oil exploration to avert any radiological health hazards to people and the environment.” We can also look at the use of non-destructive testing (NDT) to prevent defects and potential leaks in oil pipelines and tankers.

On his part, the Chief Executive Officer of PETROCOM, Mr. Egbert Faibille Jnr., noted that there was a compelling need for collaboration between the two commissions, and that the recent Appiatse disaster in the Western Region had highlighted the need for a stricter regime in the handling of such radiation.

“And so, you are right in saying that there are naturally occurring radioactive materials (NORM) and other related dangers during oil exploration that have to be dealt with in a controlled environment,” he said.

He called for collaboration in the decommissioning of the Saltpond Oil Field, which he said entails a number of issues, one of which he indicated as the subsea production system containing NORM that must be controlled. “Our concern is that nothing dangerous should escape into the environment during the decommissioning. We need to protect the flora and fauna for our aquaculture and the people who will work on it,” he added.

Mr. Faibille Jnr. also mooted the idea of a centre of excellence that would serve as a one-stop shop for the training of the middle-level workforce and technicians in petroleum and nuclear energy that can compete in any part of the world.

Other topical issues that took center stage during the meeting of the two commissions were nuclear power, localization, training, and capacity building.

By Raymond K. Baxey, CPRC/CCD

 

GAEC Boss urges young women to pursue careers in TVET trades

The Director-General of the Ghana Atomic Energy Commission (GAEC), Prof. Samuel Boakye Dampare has urged young women to pursue Technical and Vocational Education and Training (TVET) to improve their chances of finding work.

According to the Director-General, there is a high demand for skilled labor, but many young women are not drawn to the sector due to misguided perceptions and the sector being dominated by men.

Prof. Dampare made these remarks during an orientation for young women participating in the Young African Works (YAW) strategy initiative in TVET programmes at the GAEC in Accra to kick-start a two-month skills development in ICT with technical support from the GAEC for the CAMFED.

He urged them to take advantage of such skill development initiatives to gain employable skills that would help reduce unemployment in the country. “It will also help bridge the gender gap in TVET and break the jinx of male dominance,” he stressed.

“This is an excellent opportunity for you to get new knowledge. And since you have the chance to participate in this programme, please take advantage of it,” he added.

Prof. Dampare thanked CAMFED for the opportunity to empower young women through TVET. He also encouraged the participants to pursue big dreams, such as becoming entrepreneurs. “Try to start small businesses that employ two or three other people,” he advised.

On her part, the Acting Director of Commercialization and Communication Directorate (CCD) of GAEC, Ms. Sheila Frimpong indicated that the collaboration between GAEC and CAMFED to train women in TVET programmes began about two years ago with the goal of empowering young women to gain employable skills to secure their livelihoods.

“It’s clear that it’s no longer a man’s world.” With proper training, women can succeed in the technical and vocational sectors. “And we’ll do it better because women are more detail-oriented,” she remarked.

She urged the participants to stay focused and take advantage of the TVET program to gain practical knowledge and update their skill sets in order to reduce unemployment.

Participants will receive training in entrepreneurship, photography, computer programming, Graphic Designing and web development.

By Exornam Awudi & Raymond K. Baxey, CPRC/CCD

GAEC hosts online workshop on tomato processing and marketing techniques

The Biotechnology and Nuclear Agriculture Research Institute (BNARI) of the Ghana Atomic Energy Commission (GAEC) will host an online workshop to equip food processors, hoteliers, and restaurateurs on how to make and market tomato products.

The two-day workshop, which will take place on June 8 and 9, 2022, is the second edition of the first workshop held last year to provide an opportunity for interested individuals to acquire employable skills to enable them earn a living and improve their living standards.

According to Dr. Mavis Owureku-Asare, a Senior Research Scientist and Head of Radiation Technology Centre at BNARI, the second edition of the workshop is being held virtually to allow many people from far and near to participate.

Dr. Mavis Owureku-Asare (Senior Research Scientist and Head of Radiation Technology Centre at BNARI)

“The first edition sparked a lot of interest and there have been several calls from interested participants within and outside Ghana wanting to partake in the training workshop.” “Indeed, the online approach being adopted was a popular request from prospective participants,” she said.

Dr. Owureku-Asare, who is the inventor of the Ewiahemaa Solar Dryer—a solar-drying technology that preserves fresh tomatoes by processing them into powder, which can then be made into value-added products—said participants at the event will be introduced to the newly developed tomato processing techniques for tomato paste, ketchup, tomato puree, and jollof sauce.

“The technology helps reduce post-harvest losses, generates additional income, and provides a hygienic drying technology for tomatoes.” It also prevents product contamination from specks of dust, birds, and livestock, and extends the shelf life of tomatoes. Other food products such as vegetables, roots, and tubers can also be dried using this dryer, “she added.

Dr. Owureku-Asare noted that participants will be taken through topics such as overview of tomato processing technology; solar drying of tomatoes; processing tomato powder; bottling and canning of jollof sauce and tomato paste; quality management systems for tomato processing, contaminants in the tomato value-chain and marketing of agribusiness.

Participants will receive certificates at the end of the workshop. The resource persons for the training are Dr. Owureku-Asare, Dr. Joyce Agyei-Amponsah, Dr. Freda Asem, Dr. Daniel Ofosu, Dr. Kwesi Akomea Agyekum, Mrs. Adjoa Agah, Mr. Stanley Acquah, and Ms. Abigail Mireku.

The two-day online workshop is being organized in collaboration with the Organization of Women in Science for the Developing World (OWSD) and supported by Impact Food Hub, GIRSAL and Stanbic Investments Management Services with the aim of providing participants with marketable skills in the tomato processing business.

By Raymond K. Baxey & Mark Sarfo, CPRC/CCD

MOTHER’S DAY MESSAGE FROM THE DIRECTOR-GENERAL OF THE GHANA ATOMIC ENERGY COMMISSION, PROF. SAMUEL BOAKYE DAMPARE. DATE: SUNDAY, MAY 8, 2022.

We join the rest of the world in paying special tribute to mothers as we commemorate Mother’s Day, today. On behalf of Management and Staff of the Ghana Atomic Energy Commission (GAEC), I would like to salute all mothers and mother figures in the Commission.

The word “Mother” in common usage denotes the state of either having given birth to a young one, or nurturing and caring for such young ones with great affection as well as teaching them to be responsible members of society and helping them to actualise their greatest potential.

Thus, motherhood is undeniably the most important job on the planet.  Your love and sacrifices nourish and sustain us from conception until the end of time.

You do, in fact, shape our personalities, nurture our talents, and inspire us to strive for greater heights. Your collective efforts make the world a better place.

We appreciate your commitment to us and your will to keep us on the right path.

Importantly, your ability to balance work and family life in order to achieve professional and personal goals while maintaining a loving and stable home is admirable.

On this special day, I would like to charge our female colleagues to be champions of innovation, excellence and efficiency within the GAEC system.

I also urge them to be good role models, actively and purposefully coaching and mentoring new staff, national service persons, interns and students that come to our organisation and help them through the “can do spirit” reach the peak of their careers.

Above all, I will encourage our female colleagues to aspire to be the best they can as scientists, administrators, teachers and supporting staff and indeed mothers.

Kudos to all mothers, both inside and outside the Commission. I implore you to treat motherhood with the seriousness it deserves, remembering that the outcome of your labour heavily influences the course of life. You are incredible and deserve our gratitude!

Happy Mother’s Day to all GAEC female staff, GAEC Ladies’ Association and all mothers everywhere.

AYEKOO!

Nuclear Techniques Crucial to Cancer Management-GAEC

The Radiological and Medical Sciences Research Institute (RAMSRI) of the Ghana Atomic Energy Commission (GAEC) has said nuclear techniques remain a crucial option in the diagnosis and treatment of cancers.

The Institute stated that nuclear techniques such as radiotherapy uses high doses of radiation to destroy cancerous cells and relieve pains of cancer patients.

This was made known by a medical physicist at RAMSRI, Dr. Francis Hasford, at a webinar organised by GAEC in collaboration with the Ministry of Environment, Science, Technology and Innovation (MESTI) on the theme: The Use of Nuclear Imaging Techniques in Cancer Management.

According to Dr. Hasford, nuclear imaging machines are used to take pictures of the organs of patients to identify the cancerous spot. “The patient is then referred to therapy where they are placed under a device that emits high energy radiation for treatment” he added.

Dr. Hasford indicated that the Global Cancer Statistics (GLOBOCAN) of the World Health Organisation revealed that over 15,000 Ghanaians died of cancer in 2020.  “Breast cancer accounted for almost 18% of all cancer cases reported in Ghana, followed by liver cancer (14%), cervical cancer (11%), and prostate cancer (9%), ” he added.

He used the occasion to encourage the public to go for regular health checkups for early detection of cancers to save lives.

The Director General of GAEC, Prof. Samuel Dampare in a speech read on his behalf by the Deputy Director-General of GAEC, Prof. Dickson Adomako, said that existing data shows that cancer kills more people than tuberculosis, HIV/AIDS, and malaria combined.

He stated that GAEC showed its commitment to the fight against cancer by facilitating the establishment of the National Centre of Radiotherapy and Nuclear Medicine at the Korle Bu Teaching Hospital and the Oncology Directorate of the Komfo Anokye Teaching Hospital.

“These health facilities were a collaborative effort between the Ministry of Health of the Government of Ghana and the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA),” he added.

Prof. Adomako was glad that cancer patients in Ghana and the sub-region have benefited greatly from these two facilities.

By CPRC/CCDContinue reading

Artificial Intelligence model to identify crop diseases in the offing – GAEC

The Ghana Space Science and Technology Institute (GSSTI) of the Ghana Atomic Energy Commission (GAEC) is developing an Artificial Intelligence (AI) model to identify the types of crop diseases and their causal agents.

According to the Manager of Radio Astronomy and Astrophysics Center of GSSTI, Dr. Theophilus Ansah-Narh, the AI model would help the farmers identify the particular crop disease and apply a tailored approach to yield treatment, significantly increasing disease control effectiveness.

The Manager explained that “farmers will only have to snap images of their crops’ leaves and upload them to the app for the AI model to determine the type of disease affecting the crop”.

Dr. Ansah-Narh disclosed this at a webinar dubbed: “MESTI Webinar Visibility Series,” organized by GAEC in collaboration with the Ministry of Environment, Science, Technology and Innovation (MESTI), focusing on space science technology in Accra.

The Minister of Environment, Science, Technology and Innovation (MESTI), Dr. Kwaku Afriyie, in his remarks commended Dr. Ansah-Narh and GSSTI for the major strides made in Artificial Intelligence research. He also lauded the Institute for using big data techniques to collect and analyze data to better understand space and its components.

“Processes are far advanced for Ghana to develop a space policy that will provide a platform for the country to harness the full potential of space science and technology. I can announce that the policy is at the subcommittee level, and every indication is pointing to its eventual approval” he disclosed.

In a speech delivered on behalf of the Director-General of GAEC, Prof. Samuel B. Dampare, the Director of GSSTI, Prof. Shiloh Osae stated that through the work of GSSTI, Ghana has become the second African country, besides South Africa to successfully transform its telecommunication antenna into a radio telescope for data collection and training purposes.

According to Prof. Osae, GAEC agreed to host the technical activities of Ghana’s space program in 2011 since the Commission had the skill set required for such a high-level technical program.

“As a fallout of this accomplishment, the GSSTI is now collaborating with the University of Leeds to train astronomers from Ghana and other African countries” he added.

The webinar was held under the theme “Big Data in Space Science Technology” to promote GSSTI’s application of space science and technology to Ghana’s development.

By CPRC/CCD

Test drinking water for radiological safety – GAEC

The Ghana Atomic Energy Commission (GAEC) has urged owners of boreholes and producers of sachet and bottled water to test for radiological water quality.

The Commission said this would ensure the safety of drinking water, thereby preventing the long-term incidence of cancers in people who ingest contaminated water.

Dr. David Kpeglo (right) and Dr. Gibrilla Abass (middle) in a studio discussion on an Accra based TV station to commemorate World Water Day.

Research Scientists of the GAEC, Dr. David Kpeglo and Dr. Gibrilla Abass, made this call during a discussion on an Accra-based TV station to commemorate World Water Day on the global theme: “Groundwater – Making the Invisible Visible”.

Speaking on protecting groundwater, making it safe and sufficient with conventional and nuclear techniques, Dr. Abass explained that the groundwater is held in rocks beneath the earth’s surface, containing naturally occurring radioactive materials that can easily find their way into the water.

“That is why apart from the normal test for the physical and chemical parameters of the water, we encourage people to also test for radiological parameters,” he added.

Dr. Abass indicated that although the groundwater is generally safe, human activities on the earth’s surface have the potential to interfere with its safety and increase the level of contaminants that are not safe for human consumption.

On his part, Dr. Kpeglo counselled that “it is advisable that after drilling a borehole, individuals must take the necessary steps to ensure that the water quality is tested before drinking it.”

He stated that the water quality analysis must include radiological, physical, chemical and bacteriological tests. “These tests are mandatory for all sachet and bottled water producers,” Dr. Kpeglo emphasized.

“The specific requirements under the radiological water quality test are Gross Alpha and Gross Beta with the screening values of 0.1Bq/L and 1.0Bq/L, respectively. This is well enshrined in the regulations of Ghana Standards Authority and the World Health Organization (WHO),” he said.

In his concluding remarks, Dr. Abass admonished the public to always seek the services of an expert before drilling a borehole saying, “because selecting the right site is very important and a prerequisite at the initial stage to determine water quality and quantity.

“The professional will give you an idea of the water quality and quantity so that some mitigation measures can be put in place, when necessary. For instance, it is a requirement that a borehole must be sited away from a manhole with a permissible minimum distance of 50 meters,” he said. “It is even illegal to drill a borehole without a permit,” he cautioned.

Dr. Abass also said it is advisable to deal with a licensed borehole driller as they assist the Water Resource Commission (WRC) with data on the boreholes in the effective management of groundwater resources in the country.

By CPRC/CCD

GAEC LADIES CELEBRATE INTERNATIONAL WOMEN’S DAY 2022

The Ghana Atomic Energy Commission (GAEC) Ladies Association has held a get-together for GAEC women to mark this year’s International Women’s Day celebrations.

The theme for this year’s celebration “Gender equality today for a sustainable tomorrow under the hashtag #BreakTheBias” implores individuals to work towards a world that is more equal, inclusive, and free of prejudice and discrimination in order to level the playing field for women in society.

GAEC Ladies sharing a meal at the get-together

In a brief interview, the Association’s President, Dr. Eunice Agyarko-Mintah, stated that the gathering was organized to foster unity, increase communication and promote collaboration.

“We decided to host this get-together to get to know each other better, interact, and share a meal in order to foster a sense of community”, she stated.

According to Dr. Agyarko-Mintah, the theme for this year’s celebration is particularly relevant because although women are taking up leadership positions and working at par with men, biases against women still exist.

“When I was studying for my PhD in soil science, for example, someone approached me and questioned why I didn’t pursue a female-oriented field such as food science”, she indicated.

She urged young women in science and research to take on the challenge of breaking the bias by pursuing programmes in male-dominated fields such as physics and chemistry.

Dr. Agyarko-Mintah encouraged the GAEC Ladies to always strive for excellence through hard work, discipline, diligence, and integrity.

By CPRC/CCD.