- The Chernobyl accident and its aftermath have had a major impact on the social and economic development and wellbeing of people in the most affected areas of Belarus, Ukraine and Russia. Radioactive contamination of vast areas has impeded normal industrial and agricultural production.
- Addressing the post-accident situation has been complicated by political, economic and social changes over the past decade. This situation was compounded in the years after the accident by incomplete and, at times, inaccurate public information about the accident and alleviation measures.
- The psychological stress of residents in contaminated areas continues to be characterized by high anxiety, irritability, general feeling of hopelessness, fear about the future and inability to adjust. Such psychosocial effects have profound effects on the economic situation and on resources for health care. Training and education on radiation effects in the region need to be further strengthened in order to promote economic and social recovery.
- The affected areas face a set of challenges in social and economic revival similar to those in other countries of the former USSR:
- - successfully operating farms and agro-industries while supplying the population with safe food products;
- - assuring ecological safety; and
- - improving social and economic infrastructure, including radically upgrading health and social support services.
- Over the past decade, much work has been directed toward protection of the populations and rehabilitation of the affected lands. Such rehabilitation efforts, carried out with support from the international community, have been directed toward economic, ecological and human health objectives:
- - In radiation protection: work is continuing on radiation protection measures to reduce the present doses received by people in contaminated areas.
- - In agriculture and food supply: efforts have been underway to modify cropping techniques to lower the radioactive content in food products to acceptable levels. Efforts to reduce contamination of milk and meat products have been successful by adding the "Prussian Blue" cleansing compound into ruminant's feed. Experiments also are being carried out to test and introduce alternative crops (such as rapeseed) that can be used to produce industrial products, rather than foodstuffs.
- - In public health: medical monitoring systems have been established in the countries to facilitate early diagnosis and treatment of thyroid cancer, leukaemia and other
malignancies in the affected population. Medical and dosimetry registries have been set-up to carry out epidemiological studies in order to provide decision makers with information for planning on health care systems in contaminated territories. Social and psychological education centres have been established at numerous sites in all three countries to rehabilitate affected populations.
- - In the energy sector: sizeable grants and loans have been provided for promoting nuclear safety, for examining the decommissioning of Chernobyl and for rehabilitation of the energy sector.