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Clinicians' roles in management of arsenicosis in Bangladesh: interview study

BMJ 2004; 328 doi: https://doi.org/10.1136/bmj.328.7438.493 (Published 26 February 2004) Cite this as: BMJ 2004;328:493
  1. Rubaiul Murshed, postgraduate student1,
  2. Robert M Douglas, visiting fellow (bobdouglas@netspeed.com.au)1,
  3. Geetha Ranmuthugala, fellow1,
  4. Bruce Caldwell, fellow1
  1. 1Australian National University, National Centre for Epidemiology and Population Health, Canberra, ACT 0200, Australia
  1. Corresponding author: R M Douglas
  • Accepted 25 September 2003

Introduction

The British Geological Survey in 2001 estimated that 46% of all shallow tube wells in Bangladesh contained arsenic at concentrations exceeding the World Health Organization's guideline concentration of 0.01 mg/litre. An estimated 28-35 million people were thought to be exposed to arsenic in their drinking water at concentrations exceeding even Bangladesh's arsenic standard of 0.05 mg/litre.1 Many thousands of cases of chronic arsenic poisoning have now been identified, but the real magnitude of the health impact is still undefined.

In the 10 years since the problem of arsenic contamination of tube wells, on which a large proportion of the population depend for their drinking water, was identified the development of a coherent national strategy to manage this problem has been disappointingly slow.2 Doctors have a vital role both in the diagnosis and management of arsenicosis and in the mitigation of this major public …

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