Radiation, Mental Health Bills will improve healthcare delivery

The Radiation Safety and Security Bill 2022, currently before a Special Select Committee in Parliament, will regulate the use of radiation in the provision of healthcare services in Guyana.

CT Scanner at the Bartica Regional Hospital

The Bill, which was tabled in the National Assembly in April, “recognises that the use of ionising radiation can provide important benefits in many fields, including health and medicine, energy production, scientific research, agriculture, industry, and education. However, it is also recognised that it is equally important to establish measures to protect individuals, society, and the environment from the potentially harmful effects of ionising radiation, including those that can result from improper use, accidents or malicious acts.”

Minister of Health, Dr. Frank Anthony said the new legislation will bring Guyana on par with the rest of the world, while advancing quality health care delivery, locally.

“What this bill seeks to do for the first time in our country, is to be able to establish international norms and adapt them as national norms for Guyana in terms of imaging, and how we do these processes to treat cancer, and I think it’s important if we are going to develop cancer treatments in the country, we need to have the legislative framework,” Dr. Anthony said.

In Guyana, radiation is used in imaging such as X-Rays or CT scans or to treat cancer patients, but currently, there is no law governing its use here.

“All these things, the emission from these can be harmful to people and therefore, we need to regulate the doses, and we need to make sure that when we are administering these procedures that we do it with the right equipment, right doses so that people are not harmed,” Minister Anthony said.

The health minister said the special select committee will review the bill and make changes where necessary.  Once the review process is completed in the special select committee it will return to the National Assembly and will be passed with whatever changes were made.

“It’s important for us to be able to make a medical diagnosis, but you have to do it in the right way,” Dr. Anthony said.   

The law will ensure that equipment is properly calibrated, and technicians follow the rules when using them.

The government is also working with the International Atomic Energy Agency, which promotes draft legislation across the world.

“What we have laid in parliament would meet international best practices and standards,” Dr Anthony said. 

Another bill that was laid in parliament and is awaiting debate is the Mental Health Bill.

The Bill will update the current legislation which has been in existence since 1930.

“Many of the things that were in that particular legislation, are no longer used in modern medical practice, so we really need to update, modernise our legislation with regards to mental health,” Dr. Anthony said.

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