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VMS6 and clean water can be effective treatment for arsenic victims: study - 6 Apr 03

A combination of antioxidants (VMS6) and clean water could be an effective treatment for the arsenic victims, reports BSS. This was revealed in a study on "Control Clinical Trial of Antioxidant in Arsenicosis in Bangladesh" conducted by a research group of the Bangladesh Arsenic Control Society (BACS). VMS6 is a mixture caplet of six vitamins and minerals (beta carotene, ascorbic acid, alpha tocopherol, folic acid, zinc and selenium).

The study, however, said the proposed solution required further exploration to determine the optimum dose of drugs, duration of treatment and best combination of antioxidants. "Vitamins and minerals were proved useful and safe in reducing arsenic toxicity," President of BACS and Project Director of Principal Investigator Dr G H Rabbani said in a dissemination seminar on the research.

The research was carried out on 300 men and women in Hajiganj Upazila of Chandpur District, known as a highly arsenic contaminated area in the country. "However, these should not be considered as specific cure, although these can benefit patients substantially when used as an adjunct to arsenic free water," he said.

Health and Family Welfare Minister Khandkar Mosharraf Hossain attended the inaugural session of the seminar as the chief guest at the ICDDR,B auditorium in the city Saturday. The Health Minister termed the research sponsored by UNICEF and Government of Bangladesh as "very timely" and said, "Arsenic poisoning is not only a risk to human health, it also affects our society, environment and economic structure."

The government has mobilised its limited resources through various ministries, he said expressing the hope that the study of the BACS would be a landmark for the treatment of the arsenic patients. Chaired by ICDDR,B Director David A Sack the function was addressed, among others, by Secretary of the Forest and Environment Ministry Sabiuddin Ahmed, Patron in Chief of BACSA K Azad Khan, Head of the Health and Nutrition, UNICEF Bangladesh Kayode S Oyegbite and General Secretary of BACS Afzal Hossain. Meanwhile, another report from Meherpur adds: Arsenic contamination in 60 per cent tubewells water has been detected in three upazilas and two pourasavas of the district, official sources said.

The Public Health Engineering Department (PHED) conducted a survey in the water of 3,975 tubewells out of 7,995 tubewells in the district and noted with concern that water of 1,685 tubewells was found arsenic contamination. During the survey, the PHED has marked the arsenic affected tubewells and advised people of the area not to drink water of the red marked tubewells. But people are using water of these tubewells as there is no other alternative source of drinking water in the affected villages of the district.

According to the World Health Organisation (WHO) 0.05 mg arsenic per litre of water is the tolerable unit for Bangladesh. But sample collected from different parts of the district indicated that the high percentage of the arsenic contents like that of 0.51 mg to 0.56 mg in the tubewells water is extremely dangerous for public health. Non-availability of medicine and kit box in the local Public Health Engineering Department offices for testing arsenic contamination in tubewells water increased the sufferings of the people.

A survey recorded that ring-well popularly known, as `patkua'' is free from arsenic contamination. Local people urged the concerned authorities to conduct arsenic test free of cost and setup ring- well `patkua'' in the affected villages of the district. (BSS)



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