Gambia halts syrup paracetamol use after child deaths

Banjul, Gambia (AFP): The Gambia’s Health Ministry has asked hospitals to stop using syrup paracetamol after at least 28 children died of  kidney failure.

“We have clinical evidence to suspect syrup paracetamol may be one of the culprits,” Mustapha Bittaye, the director of health services, told AFP Friday.

“We are advising our staff on the medicines to give while awaiting the conclusion of the investigation”, the director added.

In a letter sent to the country’s regional health directors, hospital chief executives, and clinics this week, Bittaye cited E. coli as another possible cause, and urged officials to encourage hand washing in their institutions, as well as to substitute paracetamol tablets for syrup.

At least 28 children have died of acute renal failure after “a sudden (rise) in cases” among children aged five months to four years old, the  ministry said in an August 8 report, with out specifying when they died.

An investigation was opened on July 19, it said.