In 1986 Ukraine experienced the accident that has influenced lives of thousands of people living within the country and abroad – explosion at the Chernobyl nuclear power plant. Notably that it is believed that about 22 people died “within four months from radiation or thermal burns, 19 have subsequently died, and there have been around nine deaths from thyroid cancer apparently due to the accident: total 56 fatalities as of 2004” (1, 2005). It was the first and the only accident in the history of the nuclear power use that caused radiation-related fatalities.
According to the authoritative report of the World Nuclear Association that saw light in 2000 that black day in the history of one of the Soviet Union’s republics – Ukraine happened to be on 25 April when just before the routine shut-down, the reactor crew at Chernobyl-4 started to conduct ordinary testing. However, due to the number of operator’s errors two powerful explosions shook the whole plant and released vast masses of fission products into the atmosphere. Firemen were soon at the plant trying to extinguish the fire that accompanied explosions. “Some 5000 tones of boron, dolomite, sand, clay and lead were dropped on to the burning core by helicopter in an effort to extinguish the blaze and limit the release of radioactive particles” (1, 2005).
Yet that did not prevent the population of villages and cities in the vicinity of the plant from the detrimental impact of the accident. Some terrifying reports went on that “all of the xenon gas, about half of the iodine and cesium, and at least 5% of the remaining radioactive material in the Chernobyl-4” was released into the air as the direct consequence of the accident. the greater part of them settled within the 30-kilometer area, however lighter products were carried by wind to the neighboring countries of Ukraine, namely Belarus, Russia as well as some Scandinavian and Western European countries.
Most casualties were those firefighters who were first witnesses of the tragedy and they took the deathblow on themselves. Though they might spend only several hours there but in those first days after explosion radiation rates were extremely high and doses (up to 20,000 millisieverts (mSv)) were deathly.
Liquidation of the consequences was made the task on the national (all-Soviet Union) scale and approximately 200,000 people from all corners of the country were involved in it being exposed to high doses of radiation.
Furthermore, local population was evacuated from the area with the radius of 10 km from the plant, and later this distance was increased to the 30 kilometer radius.
In a word, one can only imagine the number of all people who suffered from the Chernobyl accident as all these figures are very rough and their true amount has been shrouded in mystery during many and many consequent years as the black spot on the conscience of the USSR authorities. There were some organizations that reported on impacts of the Chernobyl accident, but the evidence was not enough as well as reliable information about public health before 1986.
According to the article, the first who raised its voice and concern on falsification of the reports on the Chernobyl accident was the World Health Organization (WHO). It stated that, in fact, the accident had serious and grave “biological and health effects to radiation exposure” (1, 2005). It was followed by the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) that conducted research involving 200 experts from more than 22 countries and proved the previous conclusions of the WHO.
Subsequent studies were also performed in Ukraine, Russia and Belarus and registered more than 1 million people affected by radiation. By the year of 2000 up to 4000 cases of thyroid cancer had been diagnosed in exposed children (1, 2005).
In other words the given report of the World Nuclear Association gives view on the effects of the Chernobyl accident and unfortunately there are suspicions that even this picture is not full. What is more it provides not only the bare statistics and the death and casualties toll but gives insight into psychological problems of people living in the area. Some of them “took on the role of invalids” while other started smoking and abusing alcohol, thus causing much greater problem than radiation (1, 2005).
Add the low level of nutrition and mental problems compared to those found among people from the earth-stricken territories and then you will get a closer outlook on the problem.
In spite of the fact that on the one side this accident had some positive effects – such as prompting the government to improve safety measures on the other five nuclear power stations of Ukraine and around the Soviet Union as well as united the international publicity around the issue but the price for this was too high. Thousands of people are now moral and physical invalids and the number of doctors who can treat them and being back to normal life is far not enough.
Therefore, this leads us to Orem’s Self-Care Model in which he described nursing interventions as treatments based on valid and reliable measures and aimed at assisting patients to keep their functioning and development within levels compatible with life (2, 1991). Interventions are such that they maximize potential of each patient for self-care. Orem suggested three type s (categories) of nursing interventions, namely: wholly compensatory, partly compensatory and supportive educative (2, 1991). The first category covers nursing interventions, which provide complete assistance to patients. In contrast, partly compensatory interventions presuppose such assistance only in some areas where self-care is lacking deficit. As to the third category, supportive educative interventions, it refers to teaching clients (patients) how to keep themselves healthy and solve their health problems on their own (under supervision of doctors and nurses of course) (2, 1991).
In addition Orem focused public attention on the fact that health and self-care behavior are closely interconnected. Hence, if each individual is responsible for his own life, then the concept of health may be viewed as a human resource, enabling a person to fulfill ambitions and goals in life (Orem, 1991). To put it in differently the scientist teaches to involve patients in decision-making concerning their care.
To my mind, Orem’s model should be widely employed by people living on the contaminated areas today or having suffered from the Chernobyl tragedy. We were given lives to appreciate and value them, therefore people must not be weak-willed victims but should struggle for every additional minute and every breath against despair and lack of hope.
Chernobyl Accident. Retrieved on December 28, from http://www.uic.com.au/nip22.htm
Orem D.E. (1991) Nursing: Concepts of Practice 4th edn. Mosby, St Louis.