Guwahati, Thursday, February 21, 2019

Arsenicosis detected in Nalbari, Jorhat
Ajit Patowary
 GUWAHATI, Feb 20 - In a development concerning drinking water-related sickness, altogether eleven people were found suffering from the dreaded arsenicosis in Nalbari and Jorhat districts during the preliminary random health check-up drives conducted by the voluntary organisation South Asia Consortium for Interdisciplinary Water Resources Studies (SaciWATERs) recently.

 A thorough investigation would lead to the finding of more such cases. Arsenicosis works as a causative agent of several diseases, including cancer.

According to former chief engineer of the State’s Public Health Engineering Department (PHED) A B Paul, the man behind the detection of fluoride and arsenic contamination of drinking water as well as fluorosis and arsenicosis cases in the State, the health check-ups were carried out on February 12 and 14 respectively in Nalbari and Jorhat districts. Two cases were found to be in advanced stage in Nalbari district, he said.

SaciWATERs said in a press release here today that it had organised a training programme-cum-field visit for medical and para medical practitioners on “Prevention, Detection and Management of Arsenicosis” in Jorhat and Nalbari on February 11-12 and 13-14 respectively.

SaciWATERs has been instrumental in building the Arsenic Knowledge and Action Network (AKAN), which since 2013, has been engaged at multiple levels through partnership and collaboration for addressing the issues of arsenic contamination in water and related health issues in Assam and Bihar.

SaciWATERs, in partnership with India Natural Resource Economics and Management (INREM) Foundation has received support from the European Union for the next four years for a project titled ‘Civil society voices, vulnerable communities and localized platforms for water quality challenges.’ The project is aimed at enabling/improving access to safe drinking water and health for marginalized and vulnerable communities in selected arsenic and fluoride-affected districts of India.

The schedule of the training was class room sessions followed by field visits to create awareness about the epidemiology of arsenicosis, exposure to human health and various preventive measures.

On the occasion, field visits were conducted at Mohimabari, under Titabar subdivision, and Guwakuchi and Kuwarikuchi area, under Borigog- Banbhag development block in Jorhat and Nalbari districts respectively. During the visits in arsenic-affected areas, through random health check up of a very limited population, four suspected cases of arsenicosis in Jorhat district and seven such suspected cases were detected in Nalbari district.

The experts advised the residents of the villages to collect water only from the safe sources. Intake of high amount of protein, green vegetables may also reduce the adverse impacts of arsenic in human bodies, they said.

Further investigation of the health condition of these cases would be done and a detail health assessment would be conducted in the above project areas in the coming days, said the voluntary organisation.