A few days ago, hundreds of garment workers in Bangladesh fell ill after drinking water in their workplace in Gazipur, located in Dhaka. Less than two weeks ago of this unpleasant occurrence, a similar incident had occurred in another company named Starlight Sweaters Ltd., which manufactures clothes for European consumers Otto and Carrefour. Around 800 workers had fallen ill after drinking water there. Water samples from this company had been tested by The Institute of Epidemiology, Disease Control and Research in Bangladesh.
Mass Psychogenic Illness
After testing the samples, nothing unusual was found other than regular impurities of water. The director of the Institute, Dr. Mahmudur Rahman stated that this outbreak of illness was due to mass psychogenic illness. He assumed that the sickness was caused by a panic attack that might have been caused after the authorities of the factory declared that the day’s work was being closed as something was not right with the water. The occurrence of this “mass psychogenic illness” is not new in Bangladesh. It has been seen in schools, especially during summer. Now, the same has started in garment factories.
Cause of the Illness
As per Dr. Rahman, such occurrences in the past were caused due to dehydration and empty stomachs during summer. The present illness is a result of fear which is prevalent among workers of the garment factories. This has been mostly seen in teenage women, who constitute about 80 percent of workforce of the garment industry of Bangladesh having around 4 million workers. Employees now have become extremely susceptible to accidents in their places of work. This can be mostly attributed to the panic that is caused due to rumors and occurrences of such accidents.
The Bangladesh Garment Industry Scenario
The garment industry of this country comprises 80% of its export revenue which is valued at 20 billion dollars. In the wake of this illness and other disturbances, most of the factories are facing the trouble of shutdowns. The present scenario of agitations had started ever since a factory building had collapsed here in April, killing around 1129 workers.
Dealing with the Sickness
So, how to deal with this rising issue of concern? To keep the garment industry from facing a crisis, it is necessary to treat this sickness. The individuals suffering from this illness can be cured through proper counseling.
The Government of this South Asian country is trying to deal with this issue by preparing a health program.