Counterfeit equipment: Cheating people, increasing health risks
After the first COVID-19 patient was identified in the country on March 8, the number of infected patients till now is more than 1.7 lakh. The virus has caused death of more than 2,000 people. Symptomatic death is much higher. The most alarming thing is that the spread of the infection is increasing day by day. After more than two months of general holidays across the country, following the strict hygiene rules to revive the wheel of stagnant economy, many people have returned to normal activities under various conditions.
From the beginning, the World Health Organization (WHO) has advised everyone to wash their hands regularly with soap or hand sanitizer. Besides, the use of other materials is also important to remain protected. When going out of the house, instructions have been given to use face mask, gloves, surgical cap and PPE.
Under such special circumstances, naturally the demand and use of soaps, sanitizers, masks, gloves, caps, PPEs, etc have been increased across the country. People from all walks of life are using these materials to prevent infection. But the supply has not increased as per the demand. Again, the local market is in crisis due to limited import opportunities. Under these circumstances, a class of profit-seeking merchants raises the price of stockpiled goods. Under the strict guidance of the government, the timely surveillance of the administration at the field level later curbed the increased prices, but another class of unscrupulous people has started marketing all the counterfeit and substandard protection materials.
These adulterated items have already circulated from city to the countryside. These heinous and dishonest business cycles are the real proof of the popular proverb in Bengali "Someone burns a house, someone eats potatoes." The situation is completely different this time even though many essential products including various cosmetic products have been counterfeit in our country for a long time. Initially, discarded masks and PPEs were collected, washed and resold. Overnight, factories were set up in various places to produce counterfeit and substandard protective materials.
When there is a crisis in the market for soaps, sanitizers, etc, many unscrupulous traders use water, paints and other chemicals as they wish to produce standard less protective materials and start marketing them in bottles. Sitting on the sidewalk these products are easily sold to the people at the price of the real product. People, especially the poor and jobless, have been buying and using these worthless counterfeit protective materials in an effort to protect their precious lives. The effect of which is causing the side effects in the body.
During the current crisis, millions of people in the informal sector are completely unemployed. So they look for alternative income to meet all the unavoidable needs of the family. Many unknowingly start selling counterfeit protective products. In doing so, counterfeit and harmful protective materials spread beyond the city to remote villages. The vast majority of people are unknowingly using these counterfeit materials. As a result, their health risks are increasing. According to media reports, fake masks have also been provided to many doctors, nurses and other health workers directly involved in COVID-19 treatment!
According to specialists, KN-95 mask is the most effective in preventing corona virus. Unscrupulous traders are selling low quality masks with KN-95 stickers. Fake masks are also being sold under the name of surgical masks. The dishonest gang is collecting discarded bottles of genuine hand sanitizers and marketing them with counterfeit and harmful skin sanitizers. According to chemists, hand sanitizers require moderate amounts of various chemical ingredients, including aloe vera oil, isopropyl alcohol, and glycerin. Instead of destroying the germs, the misuse of the ingredients has a negative effect on the human skin and body.
According to specialist doctors, fake sanitizers are the cause harms like skin diseases, itching, allergies, skin burns. When human life is being held hostage by an invisible enemy, then the only way to prevent corona virus infection is to take the utmost precaution and follow government-prescribed health rules. Life-saving work is underway in all countries using quality health care products. In this context, those involved in the production and sale of counterfeit products are undoubtedly the enemies of humanity and the cold-blooded killers.
Online business has increased in the ongoing unexpected transition. In addition to well-known professional business organizations, many opportunistic individuals and organizations have been added. Taking advantage of the limitations of the people, the business of masks, soaps, sanitizers, PPEs etc is going on along with the daily necessities. In addition to charging exorbitant prices, classes of so-called businessmen have tried to provide people with all the health care products that are counterfeit and incapable of preventing germs. Many are buying these items because the prices are relatively low and readily available. As a result, besides being financially deceived, the path of infection and other losses is smooth.
Due to limited production of reputed companies, supply is not being ensured as per the market demand. In many cases, local traders are seeking extra money from the general people by creating an artificial crisis.
However, there is a need to ensure proper management of discarded materials. Otherwise discarded plastic materials will cause environmental damage as well as increase the chances of infection. Again, the unscrupulous people are getting the opportunity to collect these discarded items and sell them for reuse. In this case, all concerned including the common people have to take strict precautions. In all cases, discarded safety items can be burned together without leaving them on roads, open dustbins and open spaces. Burying it in a deep hole in the ground will ruin the unexpected means of infection and the easy opportunity for the unscrupulous to misuse them. Otherwise, even our slightest negligence and unconsciousness will perpetuate the ongoing deep crisis.
Those who are taking the opportunity of the current situation of the country to make profit illegally are the enemies of the country and the nation. It is imperative for the government to take a firm stand against the members of these circles who are deprived of humanity and their factories or organizations. In order to control the high rate of infection and restore normalcy in human life and livelihood, the use of degrading and counterfeit health care products must be stopped completely.
In this case, the authorities concerned have responsibilities. Public awareness on the harmful aspects of the use of counterfeit health care materials should be raised through mass media and widely used social media. Initiatives should be taken to stop the sale of these items on sidewalks or in any other way without a legitimate business establishment.
The writer is Assistant teacher, Vagyakul Govt Primary School, Sadar, Bandarban