Mumbai, (The Hindu): Chandni Shaikh, the 12-year-old girl from Govandi’s Sanjay Nagar who died on Friday, four days after taking an iron and folic acid (IFA) tablet, had been unwell for over two weeks, neighbours of the family have said.
On August 1, she was taken to Shatabdi Hospital in Govandi with a three-day history of cold, cough and fever. Her parents did not reveal this information, though her death led to mass hysteria with other parents assuming that the girl had reacted to the IFA supplements given in school.
Soon after Chandni’s death, more than 550 children, who had been given de-worming tablets in school the same day, were rushed to Rajawadi and Shatabdi hospitals by worried parents. The de-worming tablets are known to cause minor nausea and giddiness if not taken on a full stomach. As most children complained of these symptoms, parents began relating the symptoms to Chandni’s death, leading to panic.
Chandni and nearly 900 students in the Sanjay Nagar Municipal School were given the IFA tablet on August 4. Both IFA and de-worming tablets are given in schools across the country as part of national health schemes.
Furkan Merchant, a local resident, said, “Her parents blamed the tablet, but the girl had been unwell since several days before.”
She had been prescribed paracetamol and antibiotics on August 1 (The Hindu has a copy of the prescription), but her parents ignored the symptoms that persisted after taking the medication. Her condition became worse on the night of August 9, and she died the next morning after vomiting blood.
The post mortem has revealed that she had pulmonary haemorrhage, which is common among patients suffering from a severe viral or bacterial infection or acute respiratory distress syndrome.
‘Expenses a deterrent’
Chandni’s father, Shahid, works in a shoe factory and is the only earning member of the family of five that includes his wife, and two other children, Sana (10) and Hasnain (6). “They were a bit negligent. But for poor families like these, spending money on getting an x-ray and further tests can be a deterrent to going back to the doctor,” Mr. Merchant said.
Another neighbour said that on the night of August 9, Mr. Shaikh took Chandni to a local doctor who advised an x-ray, but the family never got it done and the girl passed away the next morning. Even as many probed him, Mr. Shaikh maintained that his daughter started feeling unwell after taking the IFA tablet.
On Sunday, three children remained hospitalised at Rajawadi hospital. “One of them has dengue, one had cough and cold, and the third had dysentery for 10 days. They are being treated for ailments that were detected after they were brought in by their parents,” Dr. Vidya Thakur, medical superintendent of Rajawadi Hospital, said.
Shatabdi Hospital has also kept three children under observation.
A four-member team of doctors is investigating the events that led to Friday’s frenzy and hospitalisations.
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