Over 10,000 are victims of arsenic poisoning

A latest data showed that the number of arsenic-affected patients in the country is 10,554.

Health and Family Affairs Minister Sheikh Fazlul Karim Selim told Parliament yesterday that arsenic was found in 63 per cent of the 80,878 tubewells examined so far.

Replying to Begum Aleya Afroz (women seat-10), the minister elaborated the steps taken for mitigating the catastrophe, in cooperation with the World Bank, UNICEF and other donor agencies and countries.

In response to a supplementary from Bir Bahadur of Awami League, he said the posts of specialists in the upazila health complexes were lying vacant for lack of qualified manpower.

"Even, we don't have enough specialists in the district-level hospitals. We are going to set up training institutes for developing specialist physicians in the country," the minister said.

Of the nine posts for physicians in a upazila health complex, four are earmarked for specialists.

At present, there are 397 upazila health complexes in the country, he said.

Apart from the upazila health complexes, 4,367 community clinics have so far been set up in 2,361 unions. ( UNB)

Arsenic contamination kills 10 so far, JS told

Arsenic contamination of drinking water claimed 10 lives and affected 10,554 people across the country till last month.

Health and Family Welfare Minister Sheikh Fazlul Karim Selim disclosed this in the Jatiya Sangsad yesterday in response to questions from Treasury Bench members.

Replying to a query from Begum Aleya Afroj, the minister said although there is no proper treatment for arsenic affected patients, his ministry has taken up a programme to provide the affected with Vitamin A, E and C for temporary relief.

Giving a brief account of the government measures to fight arsenic contamination, Selim said the ministry had collected samples of ground water from 80,878 tubewells, of which 63 per cent were found arsenic contaminated.

Besides, a survey covering about 87,000 tubewells in six thanas, conducted with financial support from the World Bank under the Mitigation Water Supply Project, found that water of 50 per cent of the tubewells was arsenic contaminated. Similar results were found in another survey jointly conducted by the Local Government Engineering Department (LGED) and the UNICEF, the minister said.

"We cannot examine all tubewells at a time across the country due to non-availability of imported field kits for this," he said. Two per cent of the total number of tubewells were examined till now.

In reply to a question from Mokbul Hossain, the minister said ground water in the city is free from arsenic contamination.

The government has engaged a medical team, an arsenic impurity identification team and a team for identifying patients in 500 villages in 22 districts under a UNDP funded project, he mentioned. ( The Daily Star)

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