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Article From News From Bangladesh archives


Spend half of profits to fight arsenic - Speakers urge beverage cos at a seminar in city

Speakers at a seminar yesterday urged multinational beverage companies in the country to spend at least half of their annual profits to fight the arsenic contamination.

"These companies earn millions of dollars selling just water mixing some sugar and colour with soda. Why will they not do something for the victims of arsenic contamination?", they asked.

The speakers, mostly leaders of women's bodies, also said the UNICEF, which motivated people to sink tubewells for safe drinking water during the last three decades, should take the key responsibility to help the affected millions to get rid of the curse.

Project Five-O, Bangladesh organised the seminar on "The Effects of Arsenic Contamination on Women and Children" at Dhaka Business and Professional Women's Club auditorium here in observance of its 10th founding anniversary.

International Coordinator of Project Five-O Johanne Margaret Sorensen spoke at the seminar as chief guest, while Team Leader of arsenic, water and sanitation unit of UNICEF in Dhaka Shafiqul Islam presented the keynote paper on the topic.

Former minister Noor Uddin Khan, Five-O Bangladesh executives Tamara R Ali, Nazma Akbar, Rowshan Ara, Prof. Latifa Akand, Prof. Jahan Ara Huq, Prof. Najma Siddiqi, Rasheda Akhter, Munira Khan, Dr Latifa Binte Lutfar, Zeenat Ara Bhuiyan spoke at the seminar, chaired by Chairman Nargis Khan.

Referring to the severity of arsenic, which has already affected 53 of 64 districts of the country, the discussants observed that women and children have become the worst victim of the contamination.

An arsenic affected woman especially an arsenicosis girl patient has to face painful situation in her life as nobody wants to merry her. She also face isolation due to ignorance, Prof. Jahanara Huq said, adding that arsenic is creating trouble in family life leading to even divorce. Women arsenicosis patients become subject to torture and at times they lost job, she said.

The discussants urged the government to make a policy on arsenic problem and said a concerted effort is a must to address the problem properly.

Project Five-O is an international service organisation formed by the combination of five international women organisations. These are: Soroptomist International, Zonta International, Federation of University Women (FUW), Federation of Business and Professional Women (FBPW) and International Council of Women (ICW).

Five-O, Bangladesh, which started working in 1992 as an NGO with certain programmes of poultry farming, health care, pottery-making training, sewing, tailoring and embroidery to help rural poor women, comprises the first four organisations as ICW has no representation in Bangladesh. ( BSS)



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