Industry, Investment and Commerce Minister, Hon. Audley Shaw says he is confident in Jamaica’s capacity to safely pursue its engagement with nuclear science and technology in all aspects of national development and wealth creation strategies.
He said this is made possible through the establishment of the Hazardous Substances Regulatory Authority (HSRA).
“Our use of radiation, though inherently dangerous, will be safely developed under the watchful eyes of a robust and independent regulatory environment that commands the confidence and respect of the national and international communities,” Minister Shaw said.
He was speaking during the virtual launch of the HSRA held on October 29, at the Jamaica Pegasus Hotel in Kingston, to formally recognize the Authority and enhance its standing and reputation in the Caribbean and globally.
Jamaica is the first country in the English speaking Caribbean to establish a full regulatory body for radiation protection and safety.
Noting Jamaica’s long history in the use of this technology, particularly in the medical field, Minister Shaw said the regulatory body is critical, as the country advances its use of nuclear science and technology in this area.
“The exploitation of ionizing radiation and nuclear technology in the fields of health and medicine is a key component of the best and most effective cancer diagnostic and treatment tools and Jamaica has a long history of utilizing this technology in this regard,” he said.
He further noted that the lives of many Jamaicans have been saved, by the use of popular cancer fighting machines that utilize highly energetic gamma radiation from Cobalt – 60 sources, located at the Kingston Public Hospital (KPH) and the Cornwall Regional Hospital.
“The University Hospital of the West Indies is in the process of installing a state- of- the art nuclear medical facility and several private sector medical providers have also invested in powerful medical equipment which utilize x- ray radiation, computerized tomography (CT) scanners and advanced nuclear radiation techniques for diagnosis and treatment,” he added.
Minister Shaw charged the board of directors and staff of the HSRA to diligently carry out its mandate.
“The benefits of the use of this form of technology are many, but there is also the need to regulate and manage its use carefully. Having now fully established the framework and regulations to guide the discharge of the duties of the HSRA, the task is now yours to ensure that Jamaica and Jamaicans remain safe while we leverage the benefits of ionizing radiation and nuclear technology,” he said.
An agency of the Ministry of Industry, Investment and Commerce, the HSRA is mandated to regulate the activities, practices, apparatuses and facilities that are involved in the use of ionising radiation and nuclear technology for the protection of people, property and the environment from the harmful effects of such technology and connected matters.
The entity was established in December 2016 and became operational in September 2017.