Rwanda will today join the rest of the world to celebrate the International Ozone Day.
This year’s theme is “30 Years of Healing the Ozone Together”.
In a statement, the Rwanda Environment Management Authority (REMA), in collaboration with Rwanda Medical Council, called upon local media to contribute to raising people’s awareness on the dangers of excessive exposure to ultra-violet (UV) radiations on health and how ozone protection activities can prevent diseases such as eye cataracts and skin cancers.
To mark the day, an interactive session with local journalists on the need to mobilise people’s participation in ozone protection activities is scheduled in Kigali.
“As the media has the power to reach many people, we need them to help us raise awareness on the importance of the ozone layer in protecting our lives from the harmful effects of the ultra-violet radiations and the need to protect it, as per this year’s theme,” noted Dr. Rose Mukankomeje, the director general of REMA said.
Celebrated every year on September 16 since 1985, the Day is set out to reflect on the progress made in ensuring that the ozone layer is not destroyed and that more efforts and resources are directed towards responsible communities that strive for a cleaner atmosphere.
Rwanda is a party to the Vienna Convention and the Montreal Protocol on Substances that Deplete the Ozone Layer since 2003, and has been celebrating the Ozone Day since 2005.
Since 2003, Rwanda has been implementing activities which lead to gradual phase out of ozone depleting substances (ODSs), according to officials.
These include working sessions with ODSs importers with the aim of promoting possible alternatives, prohibiting illegal importation of ODSs with the help of the Rwanda Standards Board, Rwanda Revenue Authority and the Police, and training the key ODSs users such as refrigeration technicians on safe handling of the chemicals, among others.
The country’s outstanding contribution to the preservation of the Ozone Layer earned the country the 2012 Ozone Protection Award from the Ozone Secretariat of the United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP).
Rwanda was selected to host the 28th Conference of the Parties (COP) to the Montreal Protocol come November 2016 by the Conference of the Parties to the Vienna Convention held in Paris, in 2014.
The ozone layer prevents excessive exposure of the earth to Ultra-Violet rays.
When the ozone layer gets depleted, the ultra-violet rays from the sun reach the earth directly without any shielding, hence posing a threat to human beings, animals and plants.
Among the consequences of ultra-violet include diseases such as skin cancer, eye cataracts and reduced immunity.