Bringing attention to the world of radiographers

TODAY is the World Radiography Day, and it is a day set aside to celebrate the discovery of an unusual radiation by Professor Conrad Wilhelm Roentgen in 1895. He named it “X-radiation” which signified an unknown type of radiation. This unusual X–Ray has brought great dynamics and advancements into the field of health and medical practices all over the world.

Historically, World Radiography Day is celebrated on November 8 each year. The date marks the anniversary of the discovery of x-radiation. Today’s event makes it the 11th edition in Lagos State, Nigeria. Radiographers world over use the date to promote radiography as a profession, create public awareness about the vital contribution of radiography to modern health care delivery system and to increase public awareness of the safe use and the adverse effects of indiscriminate use of radiation.

Radiography is the art and science of using any form of electromagnetic radiation and wave form of energies on humans, animals and objects that could lead to the production of any forms of medical/industrial imaging. Imaging modalities such as x-ray imaging, ultrasound imaging, computed tomography imaging, radiotherapy imaging, radionuclide imaging, magnetic resonance imaging and thermal imaging are used. Images are produced and interpreted to promote health in humans and to detect damages to equipment without actually dismantling it.

Radiography is a health profession established by decree no.42 of 1987 now Cap R1 Laws of the Federation of 2004. This is an Act to establish a board for the control and practice of the profession of radiography in Nigeria similar to laws that established other professions like medicine, pharmacy, among others.

Radiotherapy is the use of high energy x-rays to treat malignant disease called cancer, and sometimes used to treat benign tumours (benign diseases). Radiotherapy treatment can either be palliative or curative (radical). Usually, treatmentin radiotherapy is often split or fractionised into a number of radiation doses usually given over a number of days ortimes. This is to allow a larger dose of radiation to be given and reduces the amount of normal tissues been irradiated thereby reducing the side effects of radiation to the patient.

The radiographers who work in this department are called Therapy radiographers. They are specialist professionals qualified, certified and licensed in the localisation and treatment of different forms of cancer using ionizing radiation. In a standard treatment, radiotherapy is often given with chemotherapy to enhance the effectiveness of such treatment.

The level of practices and experience of radiographers ranges from general radiographer to advanced practice/specialistradiographers. The current advancementin role extension as obtained in developed countries is the position of Consultant radiographer.

As at today industrial radiography in Africa has not been effectively exploited in terms of training and practice. Even, the ubiquitous medical radiography practice has not been effectively exhausted and expanded as it is obtained in the developed world.

Anybody engaging in any of the above without adequate registration of the hospital/ facility and personnel are doing so illegally in Nigeria and such facilities/hospitals are advised to put things right with relevant authorities immediately.

Members of the public patronising any facilities/hospitals must know that it is their right to ask questions about the standard of the service they receive.  This is because the adverse effect of radiation can lead to serious consequences. Only a licensed radiographer is empowered by law to dispense ionizing radiation on bodies.

However, radiography practice in Nigeria public and private hospitals calls for serious concerns. These concerns range from structural design of the facility/ department to equipment and personnel. Most time when the departments of radiography or radio-diagnostic are to be designed or constructed radiographers are not consulted. It is a common occurrence for a radiographer to be sidelined during the decision making process of equipment procurement and planned modification of his own department.

Unfortunately, radiography equipment are very expensive and most of the equipment procured by the management at times are old generation equipment that has been discontinued from their country of origin.

It is on this note I will like to call on the Federal and State governments via the Federal Ministry of Health to address the challenges in our health system by increasing the number of radiographers in all the public hospitals and equally make available to all radiographers and staff of radio diagnostic department a comprehensive life insurance policy.

  • Bakre is a Lagos based radiographer.