The Gambia has begun an emergency drive to remove cough and cold syrups off the market after more than 60 children in the West African nation died from kidney injuries caused by the syrups. The campaign is being carried out door-to-door.
The Director of Health, Dr. Mustapha Bittaye, acknowledged the wave of child deaths from acute renal injury while speaking to The Associated Press. This news has sent shockwaves throughout the nation of 2.4 million people and around the world. The World Health Organization of the United Nations has issued a warning in response to the deaths, noting that since August it has been collaborating with the government of Gambia to examine the cause of the illnesses and deaths. The WHO has also published a statement in response to the deaths.
According to WHO Director-General Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus’s statement on Wednesday, “WHO has issued a medical product alert for four contaminated medicines identified in The Gambia that have been potentially linked to acute kidney injuries and 66 deaths among children.” These injuries and deaths were all sustained by children. The passing of young people is a tragedy of unimaginable proportions for their families.
According to the WHO, these cough and cold syrups were developed by Maiden Pharmaceuticals Limited in India and are the four drugs in question. According to the WHO, even though the tainted products have only been found in the Gambia so far, it is possible that they were distributed to other countries. According to the UN’s health agency, both the company and the regulatory authorities in India are being looked into right now.
According to the statement, “WHO recommends that all countries detect and remove these goods from circulation in order to prevent additional harm to people” Through a campaign that involves going house to house, the Gambia Ministry of Health has sent out hundreds of young people as part of a partnership with the Gambia Red Cross Society to collect potentially contaminated syrups.
A warning has also been issued by the Medical Research Council of The Gambia. “Over the course of the past week, we were forced to admit a youngster who was suffering from this illness (acute kidney injury). Sadly, she did not survive. Prior to her visit to our clinic, we were able to establish that she had previously consumed one of the medications that are thought to be the root cause of this condition. According to a statement released by the council, the medication had been purchased at a pharmacy located within The Gambia.” “A large level of a toxin that causes irreparable damage to the kidneys has been identified as being present in the medicine,” says the report.
An investigation into the tainted medication is being carried out in India on the joint initiative of the country’s federal regulator and the state regulator of the northern Haryana state. An Indian health official, who spoke on the condition of anonymity because they were not allowed to talk to the media, said that of the 23 samples that have been tested so far, four have been found to be contaminated, and India is waiting for the analysis to be shared with it.
There was no one available to answer the phone when Maiden Pharmaceuticals’ headquarters was called. Neither India’s Ministry of Health nor the country’s Federal Regulatory Authority responded to questions from The Associated Press.