‘No evidence death of 16 children due to syrup intake’

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The deputy director of health services has told Foroyaa that there is no evidence to show that the death of sixteen children at Kanifing General Hospital is related to the consumption of any syrup. Deputy Director, Dr Nyassi, made this remark on 27th June in an exclusive interview with Foroyaa on behalf of the director of health services at the ministry of health.

In the interview, he said the signs and symptoms experienced by the sixteen children suggest infection.

He also said the ministry is considering conducting autopsies.

The full text of the interview is as follows:

  1. Is it true that the fourteen children who were ill had consumed some syrup as treatment, but their condition got worse and when they were taken to Serrekunda General Hospital for further treatment, they eventually passed away?  What is your comment on this account?

Response: Any child that is sick in the country is almost 95%  likely to take syrup. Yes, 14 children died. However, based on signs and symptoms (fever, vomiting, respiratory distress/ difficulty in breathing, and convulsion) presented, we suspected more of infectious causes.

  • It is alleged that there are two additional deaths bringing the total to sixteen (16).  Is that correct?

Response: Yes, based on the information received

  • Is there any increment in the number of deaths at all?

Response: There were 4 deaths as of 15th May 2023, but there is no evidence to link them to consumption of syrup.

  • Did all the children consume the same syrup?

Response: No, as evident by clinical records and field investigation.

  • Is the syrup associated with any importer, manufacturer or country?

Response: According to the field investigations, we have records of the manufacturers and country of origin. Please note that there is no evidence of drug related cause of death.

  • What course of action has your Ministry taken so far?

Response:

  • Verified information on the increase in mortality at the Kanifing General hospital.
  • Conducted a record review.
  • Incident Management System (IMS) set up, meet once a week and prepare situational reports
  • Created line list template and case definition shared with the Regional Health Directorates and are urged to strengthen surveillance
  • EDC gives daily updates to Director of Health Services (DHS) on the situation from Kanifing General Hospital.
  • KGH gives feedback on all the suspected cases referred and make follow-ups of all discharged patients.
  • Field investigations conducted and timeline developed for cases and deaths
  • Findings of the investigation were presented to the CEO and staff of KGH
  • EDC and KGH updated the Director of Health Services on the event
  • Why has your Ministry remained silent on this matter for so long?
  • Response: Director of Health Services has updated the   public through an interview with West Coast Radio (Coffee Time with Peter Gomez)
  • Are you thinking of conducting post mortem examination of these bodies?

Response: DHS is reviewing the matter in consultation with our technical team, but no decision has been made in this matter.

  • When did this occur?

Response: The notification was received on 2nd May 2023, based on the record reviewed, the index case was reported on the 29th March 2023.

  1. Regarding the deaths of 70 children last year, has the government in anyway planned to sue the manufacturers of the drugs to court?

Response: I’m not in a position to speak on behalf of the government.

Comment: From the attending clinicians at Kanifing General Hospital, based on the clinical signs and symptoms there was no renal involvement because all the children who died were all passing urine adequately prior to death.