Dhaka, Bangladesh
15 lakh vulnerable to Arsenic contamination

15 lakh vulnerable to Arsenic contamination

CHAPAINAWABGONJ, Dec 29: Arsenic poses a serious threat to the health of more than 15 lakh people as tube-well waters in the region, particularly in five upazilas of Chapainawabgonj district have been found contaminated with arsenic, reports BSS. The people of Volahat upazila of Chapainwab-ganj, bordering the Indian state of West Bengal, are the worst sufferers as they use arsenic contaminated ground water for drinking. However, the arsenicosis could be prevented coupled with reducing its fatal consequences if the patients are ensured with safe drinking water and proper healthcare management on preliminary stage. "Although the government and the NGOs with the help of UNICEF have been trying to mitigate the problem and find out alternate sources of safe drinking water the measures still remain at the micro-level," said Dr Ali Akbar Sarker, Upazila Health and Family Planning Officer of Volahat. He was addressing a daylong upazila level discussion on arsenic contamination and its mitigation held at Volahat Upazila Health Complex Monday as resource person. Upazila Health Complex and Grameen Multipurpose Development Organization jointly organized the discussion. A project titled "Enhancing Governance and Capacity of Service Providers and Civil Society in Water Supply and Sanitation" supported the programme. Upazila Nirbahi Officer Kazi Ziaul Baset and Programme Facilitator of NGO Forum for Public Health Sabit Zahan Shishir addressed the discussion as chief and special guests respectively. Among others, UP Chairmen Mazharul Islam and Alauddin, Medical Officer Farid Hossain and Upazila Family Planning Officer Shah Newaz also spoke. Dr Ali Akbar stressed the need for massive research by the government, adding that UNICEF, World Bank, and other donor agencies should come forward in assisting the government as it requires a big fund to face the challenge. He sought cooperation of the media people to project the hazards of arsenic and bring changes to behavior and habits of the people in their search for alternative safe drinking water. Dr Akbar said, "We have detected 20,541 tube-wells out of 92,000 infected by arsenic contamination in Chapainawabgonj. We have tested the tube-wells and found arsenic contamination in 80 percent of the tube-wells in five upazilas." The fight against arsenic is very tough. Coordinated efforts of different government and non-government organisations are essential to stem the arsenic contamination," he said. In many cases, he said the epidermis disorder damage liver, kidney and eye side by side with creating social stigma. In this context, he emphasized the need for creating mass awareness in the vulnerable areas so that the people could prevent the disease before infection. So, the supply of arsenic-free water and proper treatment of the affected people are urgently needed, he added. More than 50 persons comprising government officials, public representatives, NGO activists, health practitioners and other stakeholders attended the discussion.

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