The Health Observatory for the Agadez Region (OSRA) in Niger is launched
December 06, 2011
The Health Observatory for the Agadez Region (OSRA) was officially created on December 6, after approval by the OSRA Constitutive General Assembly, meeting in Niamey, Niger, on December 5. It was set up in application of two general agreements signed on June 19, 2009, by SHERPA1 and the AREVA group2. It is the second Health Observatory created in this program, which is unique in the mining sector, following the one at Mounana, Gabon, on October 19, 2010.
The purpose of the OSRA is to monitor the health of former workers exposed to uranium in AREVA’s mining activities in Niger and the health of the region’s population. The Observatory will inform Nigerien authorities, former employees and the population of the results of the health monitoring around the AREVA mining sites with complete transparency.
Medical examinations of former workers at SOMAÏR3 and COMINAK4, two Nigerien subsidiaries of the AREVA group, will begin during the first half of 2012. The consultations will include a clinical examination, blood tests, and a chest X-ray. If cases of illness attributable to mining activities are found, AREVA has agreed to provide the same coverage for medical care as the workers would have in France.
Imouraren5 has also been chosen as a pilot site for conducting a Health Impact Study to determine baseline health conditions.
The Health Observatory project has been carried out in close cooperation with Nigerien authorities, whose representatives joined the board of directors following its first meeting on December 6. Nigerien civil society – a key participant in the creation of the OSRA and a member – will help to see that it functions properly. SHERPA, which helped to write the articles of association for the OSRA, is pleased with the new organization and will also watch to see that it operates in accordance with its mission and objectives. The partners in the project have made decisions concerning the composition of the units that will be in charge of conducting and monitoring the Observatory’s operations (scientific advisors, medical committee, coordination unit).
Commented AREVA medical director Alain Acker: “The Health Observatories are the outcome of a perfect and unprecedented dialogue between national authorities, non-governmental organizations, and a responsible corporate partner. They are now a reality in two African countries, and the group intends to extend this health monitoring system to all its mining operations around the world and notably to those in Canada and Kazakhstan.”