Tuesday, October 22, 2013

Minister says on uranium: Health before revenues

9th October 2013
Dr. Hussein Mwinyi, Minister of Health and Social Welfare
No economic interest outweighs value of the people and so utmost care is being taken in exploitation of uranium through policy and regulation, the Minister of Health and Social Welfare Dr. Hussein Mwinyi has assured the country.

He was speaking in Dar es Salaam over the weekend at the ‘Uranium-Mining Impact on Health and Environment’ conference.

Participants however issued a joint communiqué calling upon the government to revoke uranium mining licenses issued and to instead lay down sustainable strategies on renewable energy sources for a better ecological and economic future.

Advocate Flaviana Charles, Head of Corporate and Environment Unit at the Legal and Human Rights Centre (LHRC)-one of the organizing members, read the communiqué at the end of the session.

“We recommend that government should reject uranium mining and instead insist on the need for fair trading conditions with fair prices and technological support for renewable energies and sustainable production,” read part of the communiqué.

Governments are further advised to recognize that the use of uranium to build weapons is no way to guarantee the safety of a state, but the only way to make a country safer is through good diplomatic relations with other countries, the use of civil conflict resolution and social justice.

“We stress that uranium is a toxic heavy metal and together with its decay products it emits radioactivity and may affect the health of the people living close to the mine and even if it is simply left on the ground. Whenever and however it is brought to the surface for usage, it poses a great danger to human beings, the land and future generations,” read the communiqué.

Earlier on, Anthony Lyamunda from CESOPE in Bahi district, Dodoma region raised concerns over the plans of mining Uranium in his district, saying Uranium needs wisdom and patience.

 But the Minister assured them that the government of Tanzania is aware that Uranium is highly toxic as are products of its decay but it has assured the public that necessary consideration is being taken to secure potential health and environment policies to address the challenge.

The conference brought together medical experts and scientists from 14 counties including USA, Australia, Canada, Niger, Mali, Senegal, Kenya, Namibia, South Africa, Germany, Switzerland, Zambia, Malawi and Tanzania.

The event was jointly organised by the International Physicians for the Prevention of Nuclear War, uranium-network in Germany, the Rosa Luxemburg Foundation (East Africa), SESOPE, NaCUM and LHRC.

Uranium is a radioactive substance with chemical effects from exposure and these can cause health effects such as kidney diseases and cancers when people are exposed to uranium radionuclides, formed during radioactive decay of the isotopes.