As the country continues to demand answers and justice for the over 80 children who died from the consumption of Indian-made cough syrups Tijan Jallow, an official of the Medicines Control Agency (MCA), has vehemently denied allegations that all the kids died as a result of the deadly drug.
He told a news conference in Banjul that many children who died of Acute Kidney Injury (AKI) had not taken any medications manufactured by Median Pharmaceutical Company.
He said that it is not yet scientifically confirmed that these syrups were, in fact, the leading causes of the deaths of children infested with AKI.
Jallow made this statement at a joint press conference organized by World Heath Organisation Banjul office and the Ministry of Health on Monday, 31st October 2022, where he disclosed that since independence, medicines coming into the country had not been subjected to laboratory testing to determine their total safety.
According to him, Gambians should not narrow down the AKI children’s deaths to medications. Still, they should also look into the heavy rainfalls that resulted in floods, adding that 95 percent of children that died from AKI are from areas that were hard hit by floods this year.
“We realized that 95 percent of the kids that died were from the flooded areas, so some water, blood, and urine samples were collected from kids with the same symptoms. After analyzing those samples, 90-95 percent show the presence of six different bacteria species and three different virus species,” MCA Regulator disclosed at the Joint Presser.
He added: “We also collected three samples from kids affected with AKI; out of those three kids when we analyzed their samples, all of them had bacteria in their stools. So as we are talking, I’m part of the Taskforce investigating the causes of this AKI and to make it clear to the general public that we haven’t concluded yet whether it is the medicine that causes the death or the microorganism that has caused it.”
He announced that the Taskforce is currently working on the causality assessment to determine what type of medication they took.
“The main challenge of the country here is we need a quality control lab to ascertain any medicine coming into the country. That is why when these medications came in Medicines Control Agency did not have a lab to subject these products to analysis to detect the presence of residual solvents,” Tijan Jallow revealed.
According to him, Medicines Control Agency (MCA) has been working to determine whether or not the alleged drugs were contaminated.
The scientific process to ascertain their contamination must be proven, prompting the Agency to send samples to Ghana, Switzerland, and France, he told journalists.
He continued to state that after confirming the presence of microorganisms in some of the samples sent for laboratory testing MCA immediately ordered the collection of all medications brought into the country by the importer (Atlantic Pharmaceutical).
The Agency has also ordered the ceasing of operations of the importer and comprehensive testing of all medicines from Median Pharmaceutical company, Jallow said.