99 children have died this year in Indonesia as a consequence of consuming medical syrup. The authorities have stated that the syrup contained ingredients that caused Acute Kidney Injury. In response, the country has banned all syrup medicines.
According to a recent report, the officials have found 200 cases of AKI among children, a majority of whom were under the age of five. However, it is still not clear whether syrup medicines were produced locally or imported from overseas.
The events unfolded in Indonesia days after the deaths of 70 children were linked to cough syrup in the West African country, Gambia.
The World Health Organisation conducted laboratory analysis of the contaminated products in the Gambia. Through the course of the investigation, WHO found ethylene glycol and diethylene glycol were found in “unacceptable amounts” in the samples.
1. Indonesia has banned all syrup & liquid medicine and over-the-counter sales, after 99 children died from acute kidney injury (AKI) since January.
The government began a probe last week on an unexplained rise in fatalities.
So far, it received 206 AKI cases from 20 provinces. pic.twitter.com/wzRAilgGii
— BFM News (@NewsBFM) October 20, 2022
The WHO clarified that although the contaminated products had been detected in the Gambia, there is a possibility of it being distributed to the rest of the world, as well. The UN body appealed to all the countries to find and “remove these products from circulation to prevent further harm to patients”.
The India Connection
The chemicals under question in the Gambia case have been made by an Indian pharmaceutical company. WHO stated that syrups have potentially been linked with acute kidney injuries, as was the case in Indonesia too.
The WHO found the syrups used there – made by an Indian pharmaceutical company – contained “unacceptable amounts” of diethylene glycol and ethylene glycol. The syrups have been “potentially linked with acute kidney injuries”, said the organisation.
Indonesia’s Health Minister on Thursday said the same chemical compounds were also found in some medicines used locally.
The Ban On Syrups In Indonesia
“Some syrups that were used by AKI child patients under five [years old] were proven to contain ethylene glycol and diethylene glycol that was not supposed to be there, or of very little amount,” said Budi Gunadi Sadikin, according to Reuters.
The Indonesian health ministry has not specified which brands of syrups they are investigating. They have instead banned the sale of all liquid medicines, as a precautionary measure. The ban will last as long as the inquiry regarding unregistered medical syrups with contaminated products is complete.
“When cases like these happen, [what we know is] the tip of the iceberg, which means there could be far more victims,” Dicky Budiman, an epidemiologist from Griffith University told BBC Indonesia, hinting at a much higher death toll.