Arsenic Mitigation and Measurement Project
Arsenic contamination of the water is widespread in Bangladesh, and long term exposure causes serious health problems.
This project has a four related objectives:
The project is being carried out in 45 out of 264 ‘hot spot’ upazilas. These sub-districts cover 10 per cent of the country and include 20 per cent of the most contaminated areas.
The long term aim is for the project to be carried out through NGOs, with close involvement of the DPHE. The planning unit for the project is the upazila, and implementation involves the following elements:
• Communication to raise awareness, using a varied, multimedia campaign that reaches people through a variety of channels, such as rural doctors, imams (religious prayer leaders) and teachers.
• Blanket screening of all tube-wells in the upazila using field test kits, with the results backed up by laboratory tests.
• Identification by trained doctors of people suffering from arsenicosis, using house-to-house searches or community health-camps.
• Provision of alternative water supplies in communities where more than 60 per cent of the wells are affected by arsenic.
• Strengthening and expanding national laboratory facilities in order to establish a national system for monitoring water quality.
• Researching low-cost, effective treatment options for surface water and groundwater as well as improved methods for measuring arsenic in the field.
• 1,273,000 tube-wells have been tested for arsenic by field kit.
• 15,000 health workers, 8,000 arsenic testers and 1,600 doctors have been trained.
• Over 15 million people have been made aware of the arsenic hazard through the communication campaign, via discussions during arsenic testing activities and by word of mouth in the project area.
• More than 3,700 safe water options have been installed with contributions from communities.
• A national arsenic database has been established.
• A survey of knowledge, attitude and practice (KAP) on arsenic has been completed in 15 upazilas.
• The capacity of the DPHE has been enhanced to enable it to continue, without assistance, the screening of wells and awareness-raising it achieved in eight upazilas in 2002.
• The Directorate General of Health Services (DGHS) is taking increasing responsibility for identifying and managing arsenicosis patients.