RIYADH: Saudi Arabia has embarked on a major plan to check hazards posed by radiation at health facilities and ensure adequate safety arrangements to avoid possible danger to lives of health workers and patients.
The plan is to generate awareness about dangers of radiation, make radiation safety improvements, enforce regulatory measures, and impart technical knowledge of equipment-related radiation safety features.
“The Saudi Food & Drug Authority (SFDA) has teamed up with the Ministry of Interior and has already carried inspections of about 510 health facilities in the Kingdom,” said a statement released by the SFDA.
The team comprising SFDA and ministry officials conducted inspection tours of 319 hospitals, 104 dental clinics, and 87 clinics across the Kingdom.
The statement said that some hospitals including private hospitals and clinics have not taken substantial steps to ensure safety from substances that could be used to produce a radiological dirty bomb.
“Medical facilities currently are required to take specific actions to make sure these materials are safe, and many have very sloppy practices that don’t comply with good medical practices,” it added.
In fact, security of such materials at hospitals, industrial plants and other locations has long been a concern, as terrorists could disperse them in an urban setting using conventional explosives.
“The top sources of excessive and risky radiation are nuclear medicine, computed tomography (CT), and fluoroscopy besides general X-ray procedures,” said Dr. Afzal Alquf, a physician working at a local hospital.
He called on the health facilities to “comply with the requirements of SFDA, and to adopt best practices to curb the dangers of radiation.”
Referring to the inspection tours carried out in health facilities across the Kingdom, the SFDA said that all health facilities have been instructed to comply with the regulations for safety of workers and patients. In fact, the dangers of radiation in the hospitals received significant attention recently when the Western media published a series of exposed on radiation therapy treatments accidents and over exposures.
On the other hand, the Kingdom has also set up a national ‘Radiation, Environmental and Early Detection Network’ to ensure safety from nuclear accidents and radiological leaks.
The SFDA and Interior Ministry officials conducted inspections of hospitals and clinics in 83 cities and towns of the Kingdom.
Out of the total health facilities inspected under the plan, about 32 percent were Saudi government-run hospitals and 60 percent were private health centers besides military and university hospitals.

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