Dhaka Declarations
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The Ninth International Conference at Dhaka Community Hospital (DCH) Dhaka in January 2011

Participant of this 9th international conference on Arsenic contamination, health impact and safe water supply recommended that –

 

  • Arsenicosis mitigation needs to be continued and expanded and Co-ordinated action is necessary between agencies involved in mitigation activities.
  • Large amount of fund and resources are available and are being used by various agencies; Participants recommended that all resources be targeted properly for the benefit of arsenic affected population.
  • Arsenic mitigation policy and action plan of Govt. of Bangladesh should be implemented by all agencies involved in Arsenic mitigation and an independent body of Govt. needs to evaluate and audit the program.
  • Continuous research for sustainable and affordable safe water is mandatory.
  • Participant expressed concern at the confusion regarding DW, RHW and PSF; All confusions & controversies need to be properly and logically resolved as all these options are major sources of water for sustainable use and for long-term solution.
  • A carefully designed Arsenicosis randomly selected National Case Prevalence Survey is long over due. This survey is necessary to assess disease burden of the country in order to implement proper health care programm for the Arsenicosis patient management.
  • Field level case identification should be introduced and proper record must be maintained. A sustainable referral chain needs to be implemented for complicated cases which needs specialized treatment & management including rehabilitation.
  • Participants recorded the recommendation of 2nd conference held in Dec. 1998 & reaffirmed that the dimension of arsenic problem has grown beyond drinking water, research and field action programmes are required to carefully evaluate soil contamination by irrigation water & its effect on foods chain & productivity.
  • More research is necessary to un-earth other metals and such as Manganese & Lead toxins, which may contaminate water sources and may cause large scale health disorders. Especially focusing on developmental toxicity.
  • Awareness, Education of villages about the dangers of drinking Arsenic Contaminated water is important to mitigate the problem.

  • A Sixth International Conference on Arsenic was held at Dhaka Community Hospital in 2005


    1.    Over hundred researchers and professionals from home (Bangladesh) and abroad (Australia, India, U.S.A.), gathered at the 6th International Conference on Arsenic express concern that, though some progress has been made to contain arsenic contamination and mitigate its adverse impacts including treatment of affected patients, we are yet to take up the subject with the seriousness and deligance it demands.  

    2.       The participants taking note that the aim of this conference is to look back over the last 10 years and learn from the accumulated knowledge from the successes and failures, advantages and disadvantages of mitigation options, and also from various action programmes and mitigation strategies carried out by agencies and organizations in the arsenic contamination areas calls for a development and implementation of a coordinate programme.

    3.      Apprehending  that Arsenic in drinking water could turn out to be a “Slow weapon of Mass destruction”, we urge upon the media to high light the threat of Arsenicosis and sensitize all concerned to adopt measures to fight threat.  

    4.    Being aware that there is no known cure for Arsenicosis, the disorder from Chronic Arsenic poisoning, we call for ensuring supply of safe drinking water in all arsenic affected areas.

    5.    Noting that deeper aquifer may be contaminated by vertical movement of water, we urge upon concerned authorities to monitor installation of all tube wells so that proper depth is achieved and the tube wells are properly sealed.

    6.    Concerned that tube wells are being installed with out proper quality control, we call for independent third party evaluation of all deep tube wells.

    7.    Realizing that irrigation water containing arsenic affects soil and crops and thus enter the food chain,   indicated by some research outputs, we call for further research activities to establish the relationship between arsenic in irrigation water and its accumulation in crops.

    8.    Recognizing that rain water harvesting would be a viable option for safe drinking water, we urge upon all concerned to maximize its use.

    9.    Noting that various relevant policies give preference to surface water, we would expect all agencies concerned to maximize utilization of surface water.

     
    10.    And finally we the participants being aware that the National Arsenic Mitigation policy and its Implementation plan needs to be taken down to local Community level for getting proper response to the problem.                   

    5th International Conference on Arsenic Developing
    Country's Perspective on health, Water and Environmental Issues

    Held in Dhaka on February 15th, 16th & 17th , 2004Henceforth to be called

     The 5th Dhaka Declaration

     

        We, the Participants of the 5th International Arsenic Conference, note that while certain achievements been reached so far regarding the supply of arsenic free safe water to the people of Bangladesh, concrete and long-lasting efforts remain to be implemented. We were, however, pleased to note that a national arsenic policy and guidelines is under the process of approval by the Government of Bangladesh. We understand that major initiatives have started. But considering the severity and magnitude of this human tragedy, the progress of work are still very slow and inadequate. As such we continue to urge upon all concerned, irrespective of their nationality or affiliation to come forth to help the people of Bangladesh on all emergency basis.

     

        We have heard and noted the progress achieved in mitigating the arsenic crisis from the 1st International Conference in 1998 till the 4th Conference in 2002. While we appreciate that efforts are more significant than in the previous years, we cannot but stress the need for placing greater emphasis on patient care and development of an approved protocol for the treatment of arsenic -patients.

     More specifically, we the Participants do hereby declare that:

     In matters relating to patient management, it is important to develop, both an acceptable and affordable form of treatment.

     In matters relating to water resource management, all stakeholders are earnestly requested to adhere to the proposed National Arsenic Mitigation Policy and the Implementation Plan.

     In the matter of source of water, we urge upon all to give priority to exploitation of perennial sources of surface water.

     In the matters of use of ground water, we recommend that safety and sustainability of the deep aquifers must be ensured. Adequate understanding of the hydro-geological and hydro-chemical parameters must developed to ensure that these aquifers would not become contaminated in the future.
     
    We request all concerned
    to undertake, 3rd party audit and analysis of all the deep tube wells both Government and private, to evaluate the present status of water quality. 

    We urge upon the scientists to quantify the impact of arsenic contaminated irrigation water on the food chain and food production. 

    We, the Participants of this Conference, recommend that:
     

        ·        All mitigation activities will be useless unless there is full participation of local communities and local government institutions before, during and after implementation to ensure ultimate ownership. Transparency and mutual respect should the basis for all future work.

       ·        All future mitigation activities should involve the private sector. Forging a partnership. 

       ·        More scientific scrutiny and public discussion should be held before validating any of the technologies for the purpose of marketing and large-scale use.

     

    In conclusion, we re-iterate the seriousness of the situation in Bangladesh and urge all concerned to actively assist the people of Bangladesh, particularly the already affected people, in overcoming this crisis.

     










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    Participants at The 4th International Conference on Arsenic Contamination of Groundwater:
    Causes, Effects and Remedies

    Held at Dhaka on January 12 & 13, 2002
    make the following declaration:
    Henceforth to Be Called


    THE 4th DHAKA DECLARATION

        It is with profound distress that we, the Participants of the 4th International Arsenic Conference, have noted that no significant achievement has been reached so far regarding the supply of arsenic free safe water to the people of Bangladesh.

        We were, however, pleased to note that major initiatives are being started, but considering the severity and magnitude of this enormous human tragedy, the efforts are still too slow. As such, we urge upon all concerned, irrespective of their nationality or affiliation, to come forth to help the people of Bangladesh on an emergency basis. We have heard and noted the progress achieved in mitigating the arsenic crisis from the 1st International Conference in 1998. While we appreciate that efforts are more significant than in the previous years, we cannot but stress the need for placing greater emphasis on the formulation of a framework of a National Strategy to arsenic mitigation. In this strategy, the interests of the people of Bangladesh would be given utmost priority. More specifically, we the Participants do hereby declare that:

    * In matters relating to patient management 

        There is no known treatment for arsenic skin lesions. It is important to develop both an acceptable treatment and management protocol for the numerous patients suffering from arsenic skin problem. Disease caused by chronic arsenic poisoning and its complications need to be properly defined. A widely acceptable protocol should be developed and implemented by the health system for patient management.

    *in matters relating to water resource treatment

        Extreme caution must be exercised before recommending any solution, either as an alternate source or as a form of arsenic removal technology unless adequate scientific evaluation is carried out by a competent authority. Bangladesh being endowed with abundant surface water and rain water, all agencies must consider the use of surface and rain water before suggesting ground water withdrawal except in unavoidable circumstances or in safe areas. Before recommending extraction of ground water from deeper aquifers, the safety of the deep aquifers must be ensured and adequate understanding of the geological parameters developed to ensure that these aquifers will not become contaminated in the future. More understanding is required to quantify the impact of arsenic contaminated irrigation water on the food chain and food production. As alternate water sources are being identified, extraction of ground water from shallow aquifers should be banned except in safe areas or in unavoidable circumstances.

    * We, the Participants of this Conference, recommend: 

        All activities related to arsenic mitigation or research in Bangladesh should be significantly increased and expediated after scientific evaluation.

        All mitigation activities must be undertaken to ensure the full participation of local communities and local government institutions before, during and after implementation to ensure ultimate ownership.
           
        We believe that without the involvement of communities and local government institutions all efforts will be unsustaintble.

        All future mitigation activities should involve the private sector, forging a partnership and coordination between the public and private institutions.

        In conclusion, we reiterate the seriousness of the situation in Bangladesh and urge all concerned to actively assist the people of Bangladesh in overcoming the mega crisis
               

    LESS WORDS AND MORE DEEDS, PLEASE




     

          

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    THE THIRD DHAKA DECLARATION DECLARATION
    OF THE PARTICIPANTS OF THE 3RD INTERNATIONAL ARSENIC CONFERENCE
    HELD AT DHAKA, BANGLADESH ON MAY 13 & 14, 2000
     
    HENCEFORTH TO BE CALLED
    THE THIRD DHAKA DECLARATION - 2000 ON ARSENIC:
     NEED FOR ACTIONS


    -A large number of people, including children and women, continue to suffer from chronic arsenic poising and more are expected to suffer in the future;
    -The arsenic problem remains a major threat to public health and the social structure of Bangladesh;
    · Supply of arsenic free, safe water is the immediate need;
    · Coordinated and concerted efforts are needed from Government, NGOs the private sector, national and international organizations and individuals to overcome this severe problem;
    · Attention also needs to be focussed on other related issues, such as arsenic in food and soil.

        We, the participants of this International Conference in Dhaka, observe that the progress in dealing with the arsenic problem in Bangladesh has been tragically slow, and do hereby declare that: -

    · On-going efforts need to be accelerate to become effective; and
    - The arsenic contamination crisis in Bangladesh must be dealt with on an emergency basis;
    - The entire nation needs to be mobilize to combat the problem;
    - Research is needed to in the context of developing a vision for a comprehensive water policy;
    - Attention must be given to the needs of the arsenic patients and their management; and
    - All agencies, whether government, non-government, donor, academic, national or international, must act now. There is no time to waste
    - enough knowledge is available to undertake the basic steps
    - to stop people from drinking arsenic contaminated water through social mobilization and involvement of villagers and local government bodies in the screening and mitigation activities, tapping into the indigenous knowledge of the villagers themselves and validating it through scientific methods.

    Act immediately!
    Remember: a day lost is a few lives lost!





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    ARSENIC PROBLEM AND WATER RESOURCE MANAGEMENT IN BANGLADESH
    The second DHAKA DECLARATION
    Date: December 15, 1998

        Following from the International Arsenic Conference, in which those suffering from arsenic participated 10 months ago in February 1998 in Dhaka, the participants in this International Conference now re-iterate that the arsenic problem is extremely serious and urgent actions are required.

    We the participants of the workshop declare that:

    (a)  There is an urgent need to accelerate both the identification of safe water sources and the expansion of mitigation programmes in the affected areas because thousands of people are suffering and millions of people are consuming arsenic contaminated water and food.

    (b). All concerned, that is the Government and non Government organizations, local government institutions (Gram and union parishad and municipalities) the World Bank, the development partners and UN bodies, should work together and share all information, knowledge and resources in-order to have a sustainable, affordable and integrated programme because people have been, and continue to suffer.

    (c). In-order to achieve the successful model for mitigation, communities must be informed and asked to participate in developing appropriate strategies, and in the long run they must get control of the programme.

    (d). The participation of communities in implementing various mitigation alternatives is essential for developing a sustainable and affordable mitigation programme.So communities must decide and chose the strategies and models which are approprate to their context

    (e). Because the dimension of the arsenic problem has grown beyond drinking water, urgent research work is required to understand the food chain arsenic problem and to determine whether it is important . We call upon government and non government organizations, the World Bank and other development partners to support scientific programmes, in order to achieve proper understanding and in-order to give direction to mitigation programmes for this food chain hazard

     (f). All information obtained by various workers in Bangladesh and also by workers in other countries should be systematically arranged and stored for quick dissemination of this information. Such information centres should be built urgently and regularly up-dated to help individuals, groups and communities afflicted to get quick access to knowledge and information on arsenic contamination

    (g). The media should call upon government to allocate special programmes on radio and TV and also request the private media to participate in mass awareness-building efforts in support of arsenic mitigation








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    DECLARATION OF PARTICIPANTS OF THE INTERNATIONAL CONFERENCE
    ON ARSENIC CONTAMINATION OF GROUND WATER:
    CAUSE, EFFECTS AND REMEDIES,
      HELD AT DHAKA, BANGLADESH FROM FEBRUARY 8 TO 12 , 1998

    HENCEFORTH TO BE CALLED THE (first) DHAKA DECLERATION
    Date: February 12th 1998

    We, the participants from different countries, working of different aspects of the arsenic problem, having visited one of the arsenic affected villages of Bangladesh and having observed the villagers in their natural habitat, the arsenic contaminated tubewells, the plight of the arsenic affected patients, their suffering and that of their relatives and having listed to the deliberation and the discussions at the conference, especially of those from Bangladesh, have come to the understanding that:
           
    # The groundwater of a significantly large area in Bangladesh is contaminated with high concentration of arsenic;
    # The cause of this arsenic contamination is geological
    # Supply of arsenic free water is the only solution;
    # This could also happen in other parts of world ; and
    # Coordinated and concerted efforts are needed from National and International organizations and individuals to overcome this severe problem.

    We, the participants of this International Conference in Dhaka, do hereby declare that:-

    # The arsenic contamination of groundwater in Bangladesh needs to be addressed on an emergency basis;
    # We shall direct our research for the benefit of all people;
    # We shall use our knowledge and expertise and unite resources available to us to determine appropriate community based, affordable and sustainable water supply solution;
    # We shall work in a concerted manner to protect and save people from the arsenic problem, ensure treatment of all patients and identify those at risk;
    # We agree to share information amongst ourselves, make our findings freely accessible and allow others to use them for the interest of all people
    # We shall assist in the setting up of organizations/ canters for research, training, storage and dissemination and all over the world.

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