Gambia leader Barrow vows swift action after deaths linked to cough syrups

President Adama Barrow promised on Friday that The Gambia would step up public health measures, including better quality control of imported medicines, following the mysterious deaths of dozens of children.

BANJUL (AFP) – President Adama Barrow promised on Friday that The Gambia would step up public health measures, including better quality control of imported medicines, following the mysterious deaths of dozens of children.

Barrow said 66 children had died of acute kidney failure in the past three months, fearing imported cough syrups were to blame.

The World Health Organization (WHO) on Wednesday issued an alert about four cough and cold syrups made by Maiden Pharmaceuticals in India over possible links to the deaths.

Laboratory tests revealed unacceptable levels of potentially deadly pollutants, the WHO said, adding that the products may have been distributed beyond the West African country.

On September 23, Gambian health authorities ordered the recall of all medicines containing paracetamol or promethazine syrup.

In a statement, Barrow promised officials would “get to the bottom of the deaths” and announced a series of measures to prevent future tragedies.

He ordered the creation of a “national drug quality and food safety laboratory” and an update of the country’s drug laws to ensure that regulations aimed at preventing such incidents are up to date.

The government “will take precautions to stop the importation of substandard drugs”, he said, while praising the work of the health ministry.

“Thanks to their rapid response and the support of our partners, the outbreak is now under control, with only two cases reported in the past two weeks.”

Barrow tried to reassure Gambians by noting that child mortality is not significantly different from similar times in the past, but added that he was “deeply concerned about every death in the country”.

“I assure you all that the government will spare no effort to investigate this incident,” the president said, urging citizens to be “vigilant”.

RosGwen24 News
RosGwen24 News
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