DOES SALINITY INTRUSION INCREASE THE RATE OF CHRONIC ILLNESSES FOR THE COASTAL COMMUNITIES?: A Case Study from Dacope Upazila of Coastal Region of Bangladesh
Coastal Disaster Risk Management in Bangladesh: Vulnerability and Resilience
Drinking water from various sources in Bangladesh’s coastal region has become polluted with diverse degrees of salinity due to saltwater intrusion from increasing sea levels, cyclone and storm surges, and upstream loss of fresh water. Salinity intrusion poses threats to water standard and security, as well as the health of people. The present study was conducted in coastal Dacope Upazila (sub-district) in southwestern Bangladesh to evaluate the impacts of salinity intrusion on human health. Data on some chronic illnesses such as arsenicosis, diarrhoea, as well as tuberculosis were collected from Dacope Upazila Health Complex for the period of 2013–2019. Environmental parameters comprising total dissolved solids (TDS), total solids (including both dissolved and suspended solids) (TS), acidity-alkalinity (pH), biological oxygen demand (BOD), iron (Fe), chemical oxygen demand (COD), electrical conductivity (EC), salinity, arsenic (As), and groundwater table data were also collected. The study found that within the seven-year period, a total of 843 arsenicosis patients, 31,164 diarrhoea patients, and 20,211 pneumonia or acute respiratory infection patients were treated at the local health complex. Although the study found that there was no significant relationship between the number of patients due to arsenicosis (P = 0.670), diarrhoea (P = 0.316), as well as those with tuberculosis (P = 0.102) and the environmental indicators (including those for salinity), key informants reported that salinity intrusion was associated with adverse maternal health and outcomes (e.g., miscarriage among pregnant women), new born mortality, menstrual hygiene problems, skin diseases, and hypertension among the coastal people. Future research could examine the existence and extent of any such relationship in this region.
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