By: Nyima Sillah
The National Human Right Commission has issued a press statement urging the Ministry of Health and the Medicine Control Agency, to do by any means necessary to stop the circulation and sale of substandard medicine as well as their importation.
In a statement available to this medium, the commission made the following recommendation for consideration: “Continue extensive sensitisation of the population in local languages about the risk of such drugs in the market, particularly in poor communities that may not be aware of the risks. Investigate and determine the circumstances in which the drugs were imported into The Gambia.
“Immediately investigate and determine the level of distribution of the drugs across the country. Conduct rigorous laboratory testing regime for all medicines prior to being passed for public consumption, meanwhile medicines already in circulation should also be subjected to such testing process to confirm their suitability for consumption or otherwise for the purpose of protecting lives.
“Immediately investigate the potential unreported casualties for further assessment, immediately recall all the identified drugs for further investigation into their content. Immediately seek technical and financial assistance to strengthen regulations on the importation of drugs and pharmaceuticals in the Gambia.
The commission also urged the ministry and Medicine Control Agency to recall the affected drugs from the market for quick disposal and also to explore the full latitude of the law for potential breaches of regulations/ laws on the importation/ procurement of drugs in The Gambia by individuals, corporations, and agencies; and as well as providing effective remedies for all the affected victims and their families.
“We recall that the outbreak of this ‘killer health condition’ amongst children under five years was first reported by the Ministry of Health in July this year, and at that time thirty-two (32) cases and 28 mortalities were confirmed. While the Commission recognises that matters of this nature require vigorous scientific and laboratory analysis to establish accurate facts.
It is the view of the Commission that the death of 66 children in The Gambia has a significant bearing on the right to life of children, survival and development, and highest attainable standard of health.
The National Human Rights Commission (NHRC) wishes to convey to your good Office our grave concern about the information circulating on WHO website, social media and other reputable media regarding the linkage between the death of about sixty-six (66) children due to Acute Kidney Injury (AKI) and four substandard medical products (Promethazine Oral Solution, Kofexmalin Baby Cough Syrup, Makoff Baby Cough Syrup and Magrip N Cold Syrup) that are manufactured by Maiden Pharmaceutical Limited (Haryana, India),” the statement signed by the chairman of the National Human Rights Commission stated.