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Last Updated: Monday, 20 December, 2004, 11:11 GMT
Salary cut aids Sudanese children
Sudanese child using PVC drinking tube
The PVC drinking tubes are saving lives in Sudan
Workers at a County Durham plastics plant are donating part of their wages to help children in Sudan.

Staff at Hydro Polymers in Newton Aycliffe were moved when they heard of the plight of thousands of Sudanese children who suffer from Guinea worm.

The disease is prevalent in Sudan and is contracted from drinking water, contaminated with microscopic fleas.

The cash is being used to part-fund a Guinea worm eradication programme in the African country.

About a year after the victim drinks infected water, one or more worms emerge through the skin.

They can be up to one metre long and can take weeks to fully emerge through blisters on the skin.

The illness can leave those affected completely or partially disabled.

It is very impressive how a simple PVC pipe can play a huge benefit to the social welfare of these people
Dr Jason Leadbitter, Hydro Polymers

About 400 Hydro Polymers staff at Newton Aycliffe agreed to give-up a proportion of their salary as part of an initiative run by the company's Norwegian-owned parent company to purchase special PVC drinking straws for use in Sudan.

The straws have special filters that prevents the intake of harmful bugs when drinking from infected water.

So far donations have been used to purchase 450,000 pipe filters.

Dr Jason Leadbitter, group sustainability manager, of Hydro Polymers, said: "It is very rewarding to know that the efforts of our staff can make such a significant contribution to improving the quality of life for people thousands of miles away.

'Humanitarian crisis'

"It is very impressive how a simple PVC pipe can play a huge benefit to the social welfare of these people.

"The company intends to continue to take part in the project and we look forward to the day when the Guinea worm disease has been wiped out completely in Sudan."

About 70,000 people have died in Sudan, in what has been described as the "world's worst humanitarian crisis".

More than 1.5 million have fled their homes, mostly black Africans being targeted by pro-government Arab militias.

Peace talks are aimed at ending a conflict that has raged since February 2003, when rebels began attacking government targets, claiming that the region was being neglected by Khartoum.

Human rights groups and the US say that genocide is being carried out against non-Arab groups.

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