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Good news for cancer patients

Khan: $1.5m to join atomic energy agency

By Renuka Singh

Health Minister Dr Fuad Khan yesterday announced that for a $1.5 million membership fee, the country would now be able to access the expertise of the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) for local cancer treatment centres.

Speaking at the post-Cabinet media conference at the Coco Reef Resort in Tobago yesterday, Khan said while the annual fee was $1 million, $500,000 would be deposited into a fund for developing countries to access more resources specific to the level of technical development.

In January, Khan had engineered a visit from the group to evaluate claims of over-radiation of 223 patients at the Brian Lara Cancer Treatment Centre over an 18-month period from 2009.

"We have basically come a very long way," Khan said.

"Now that we have membership with the IAEA, I think radiation protection action in this country will take a different direction," he said.

The final report of the IAEA January 2012 Assistance Mission to Trinidad and Tobago found some of the 223 patients who were adversely affected by over-radiation at the Brian Lara Cancer Treatment Centre had "clinical evidence of such severe radiation injury that an experienced clinician cannot help but think that even an approximate 15 per cent overdose may have been a contributing factor in causing an increased severity of the injuries in some of these patients".

Khan said yesterday that membership would ensure appropriate use of ionising radiation and strengthen regulatory infrastructure for the control of radiation sources.

"It will strengthen and update the technical capabilities for the protection and safety of workers," he said.

He said it will also govern how the country disposes of radioactive waste in the region.

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