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Girl dies, iron supplement blamed

Published On : 11 Aug 2018   |  Reported By : Courtesy The Hindu   |  Pic On: Photo credit The Hindu

Mumbai, (The Hindu): Class VI student of Govandi school dies 4 days after school medication; over 500 kids taken to hospital

Several hundred students of a Govandi school, who had been administered iron and folic acid tablets four days ago, were taken to hospital after a 12-year-old student died early on Friday.

As news of Chandni Shaikh’s death spread, panic-stricken parents of nearly 500 students of the Sanjay Nagar Municipal School thronged the civic-run Rajawadi Hospital in Ghatkopar. Doctors there said 426 children were brought in for check-ups, while 61 were taken to Shatabdi Hospital. The students had been given deworming tablets on Friday, which coincided with National Deworming Day.

Chandni, a Class VI student of the Urdu medium school, and others had been administered the Iron and Folic Acid (IFA) supplement in school on August 6, a weekly practice under the Central government’s National Iron Plus Initiative. She didn’t attend classes on August 7 as she was unwell, but did so on August 8 and August 9. Early on Friday, she began coughing up blood, and died around 6.30 a.m. before she could be taken to Rajawadi Hospital.

As a precautionary measure, the civic body stopped administering IFA tablets of batch no. TAF8069AL, and Albendazole tablet (de-worming) of batch no. FAR6L733 with immediate effect in schools.

BMC denies link

Dr. Padmaja Keskar, Executive Health Officer, BMC, said Chandni’s death and children being taken to hospitals shouldn’t be linked. “Slight nausea is a common reaction to deworming tablets, but her death led to panic.”

Shahid Shaikh, Chandni’s father, said, “She was feeling unwell and breathless. We assumed it was because of the heavy school bag.” He said her condition worsened on Thursday night, and they took her to a local doctor who advised an X-ray before starting treatment. However, she died on Friday morning.

Dr. Keskar said Chandni had otorrhea (ear discharge), which could be due to an internal infection, and some vision-related problem. Local residents said she had a history of tuberculosis, but her parents maintained she was healthy.

Parents panic

By 9 a.m., a large crowd of parents had gathered outside the school. “There were rumours that many children died after consuming medicines given in school. There were many WhatsApp messages floating around and parents kept calling each other, spreading wrong details. Some messages said 10 children had died. When they said they were feeling nauseous, parents panicked more,” Furkan Merchant, a local resident who helped in crowd control at the school and the hospital, said.

He added that the children were taken to hospital in police vans, autorickshaws and private vehicles. Mehbunissa Idresi, mother of 11-year-old Muskaan, said she had been taking tablets given in school regularly, but had never complained of uneasiness earlier. Muskaan was admitted for observation to Rajawadi Hospital.

Arbina Shaikh, a Class VI student, said they were given the tablets in the morning and told to have them after recess. “Soon after recess, when I had had my tablet, an announcement asked us to not have the tablet.”

FDA takes samples

Inspectors from the Food and Drugs Administration came to collect samples of the drugs for testing. Dr Keskar said doctors were posted in Sanjay Nagar, Rafiq Nagar and Shivaji Nagar areas so that children can be checked for reactions. Chandni’s post mortem examination was conducted at JJ Hospital.

DCP (Zone 6) Shahaji Umap said as per the PM report, said there was evidence of broncho-pulmonary haemorrhage.

He added, “However, a final opinion will depend on the chemical analysis and histo-pathological examination.” Doctors say the most common cause of pulmonary haemorrhage is tuberculosis, but an acute viral or bacterial infection, sepsis or pneumonia can also cause it.

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