Nalitabari people at serious arsenic threat

The people in Nalitabari upazila of Sherpur are at dangerous risk of
arsenic contamination.
There are about 2.5 lakh people in 12 unions of the upazila. A
considerable number of these people are at high risk of arsenic. There
are a total of 22,150 tube wells in the upazila. Of them, water of
7,000 tube wells was examined and presence of arsenic was found in
1022 of them.
The arsenic contaminated tube wells were marked with red sign and
those free from arsenic were marked with green.  According to the
public health directorate and upazila health department, the number of
arsenic patients in Nalitabari upazila is now 26 while the number of
suspected patients is 30.  Of the arsenic affected, 18 are in Sadar
union of the upazila alone.
Women account for 30 per cent of the arsenic affected people.  The
arsenic patients are given treatment at the upazila health complex.
But many people complained that they were identified as skin disease
patients and not given arsenic treatment.  Recently, five such people
went to Sherpur district hospital where they were diagnosed with
arsenicosis and given cards for arsenic treatment.
On June 25, arsenic patients and their relatives formed human chain at
Nalitabari Sadar Shaheed Minar demanding alternative sources of pure
drinking water and proper treatment facilities from the government.
After the human chain, the demonstrators submitted a nine-point
memorandum to UNO Abed Ali and the civil surgeon through the upazila
health and family planning officer.
Apart from arsenic patients, local elite, journalists and officials of
Caritas, a non-government organisation, joined the human chain.
Caritas Mymensingh region field officer Claudia Nokreck Keya, Press
Club president MA Hakam Heera, journalist Samedul Islam Talukdar,
Abdul Manna Sohel, UP member Zafar Ali and Rahat Hossain, among
others, spoke at the human chain.
Nalitabari union member Zafar Ali, who is also an arsenic patient,
said the arsenic patients do not get proper treatment at the upazila
health complex and they urged the government to increase treatment
facilities for this.
They also demanded alternative sources of pure water since tube wells
of this area have become unfit for supplying pure water. Nalitabari
UNO Abed Ali assured that steps would be taken so the arsenic patients
get proper treatment at the upazila health complex.

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