By: Madi Jobarteh
The death of 66 children due to kidney failure potentially linked to four contaminated medicines require urgent criminal investigation. The WHO has today issued an alert confirming the deaths based on The Gambia Government’s own information. This matter should not be pushed under the carpet. As the Government is advising parents to avoid these Indian-made medicines, it is necessary that there is also accountability for the lives of children lost.
These 66 innocent children should not perish for what is not there fault. They have a right to life and good healthcare, but these rights have now been violated. Their parents made the effort to buy medicines to cure their sick children. They bought these medicines with the strong believe that medicines in this country are safe because there are the relevant authorities to ensure that safety. Apparently they have been betrayed by that system.
These parents are not doctors, pharmacists, regulators or policy makers to know and determine which medicine is safe or not. Like all citizens they had confidence in these medications because they believe the Government will protect their right to health with good medicines. It is now evident that this is not the case. They have lost their children! Who is responsible?
For that matter, The Gambia Government should open criminal investigations to determine who, how, when and why these four medicines are imported into the country. How come with all the institutional checks in place such fatal products could still reach service points only to be consumed and kill children? Those responsible should be identified and held accountable. The systems need to be assessed to determine where the lapses are and how to strengthen them. In essence The Gambia Government should take responsibility for the loss of the 66 lives.
Therefore, I call on the Health committee of the National Assembly to demand answers. I call on the National Human Rights Commission to open investigations on the loss of life of these children. I call on the Attorney General and the IGP to open criminal investigations to determine how such deadly products entered the system and by who. All medicines from India should be suspended and put under heavy scrutiny to determine their authenticity.
The Ministry of Health as well as the Medicines Control Agency and the Pharmacy Council including other health related bodies must be transparent and honest to citizens by providing the full information about this crisis! It is not acceptable that bad medicines should find their way into homes. While I am aware of the huge illegal trade in medicines globally, it makes all the more sense that Gambians must be alarmed. How do we know if there are no bad medicines in the market already? Therefore, these bodies must work harder to cleanse the system and assure Gambians that the medicines they consume are safe and will cure them.
All citizens as well as CSOs and political parties should take this matter extremely seriously. A contamination in medicines is a direct threat to lives. There should be no complacency. Citizens have the right and deserve to know who and what is responsible for the presence of deadly medicines in the health system.
For the Gambian Our Homeland