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IAEA Director General Visits Botswana: Highlights Support for Technical Assistance Using Nuclear Technology

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Following the opening of a veterinary diagnostic laboratory with the technical support of the IAEA last year, farmer Jospeh Wakala now receives the results of routine animal laboratory tests within days, rather than weeks. This makes it easier for him to take action, should any pathogens be identified. (Photo: M. Gaspar/IAEA)

IAEA Director General Yukiya Amano visited Gaborone, Botswana where he met Vice President Mokgweetsi Masisi and other senior government officials, and discussed how IAEA technical assistance can meet national development challenges. One of the key areas discussed was food safety: ensuring safe food for consumers and exports to third countries. The IAEA supports Botswana in using nuclear techniques in cancer diagnosis and treatment, animal health, agriculture, environmental monitoring and radiation protection.

At the National Veterinary Laboratory in Sebele, Mr Amano met senior scientists, and saw first-hand the various IAEA-supported nuclear-derived diagnostic techniques that help ensure milk, dairy and meat products are fit for human consumption.

He was also briefed on the serological and molecular techniques that help in the early detection and rapid diagnosis of various animal diseases. The Botswanan labs are an important partner in the African Veterinary Laboratories network, which contributes to the effective management of animal health and disease prevention. Read more about the country’s work in this area in this article.

Mr Amano was briefed on the progress achieved at the country’s first ever rural veterinary disease diagnostic laboratory at Jwaneng that received IAEA donated satellite laboratory equipment which brought veterinary diagnostic services to a rural area of the country to improve animal disease prevention and control. The IAEA and the United Nations Food and Agriculture Organization helped the laboratory in the use of nuclear and nuclear-derived technologies to quickly diagnose animal and zoonotic diseases, which can spread from animals to people.

He also visited Sir Ketumile Masire Teaching Hospital at the University of Botswana. He was informed by senior staff about the ongoing work to prepare the hospital for cancer diagnosis and treatment using radiation medicine. The IAEA has assisted with staff training and expert advice, and Mr Amano said that IAEA will continue to support Botswana in training and skill development for health professionals in the cancer field.

In his meeting with senior staff at the laboratories of the Radiation Protection Inspectorate, Mr Amano was informed about policies on the effective monitoring of radioactivity in the environment and promoting technical cooperation among regional radio-analytical laboratories.

Mr Amano was given a guided tour of the three important laboratories at Radiation Protection Inspectorate: the Environmental Laboratory which is equipped with gamma and alpha spectrometers to enable it to analyse samples, such as soil and food; the National Dosimetry Laboratory and the Instrumentation Laboratory, which is equipped with a range of calibrated radiation detecting equipment.

Other ministers that Mr Amano met with were Minister for Presidential Affairs and Public Administration Eric Mothibi Molale, Minister of Health and Wellness Dorcus Makgato, and Minister of Agriculture Development and Food Security Patrick Ralotsia.

Mr Amano was in Botswana from 24 to 27 January. It was the last leg of his three-country tour to Africa, which also included Uganda and Zambia.

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