Unexplained Death of Children Allegedly Kills 14 in Gambia

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Kanifing General Hospital

By: Foday Manneh

Another emergency health alert of unexplained child deaths has allegedly killed at least 14 out of 15 cases recorded at the Kanifing General Hospital in the Gambia, according to reports reaching the Alkamba Times.

TAT discovered that the Epidemiology and Disease Control (EDC) unit of the ministry of health received a letter from the Chief Executive Officer of Kanifing General Hospital notifying them of unexplained deaths among children under the age of five years.

A total of 15 cases were reported of which 14 died representing a case fatality rate of 93%. All reported cases manifested signs and symptoms, including fever, vomiting, respiratory distress or difficulty breathing, and convulsion before death.

The cases reportedly visited a health centre or pharmacy because of the same disease. As a result, they consumed some syrup medication obtained from these health centres or pharmacies, our investigations reveal. 

All the cases arrived in the hospital in respiratory distress and shock. Yet, according to our information, they barely spent less than 24 hours in the facility.

When contacted on the issue, the Chief Executive Officer of the Kanifing General Hospital, Basiru Drammeh told TAT about an ongoing investigation into the matter but preferred not to speak further.

“We are still investigating; we don’t know. So it would be very premature to talk about it right now. We have to know what exactly is happening,” Drammeh said.

In October 2022, the Gambia was globally flagged for an emergency health concern by the World Health Organisation (WHO) over similar child deaths.

The WHO alert confirmed over 66 children under the age of five were killed at the time — significant deaths attributed to an Acute Kidney Injury (AKI) disease coupled with the consumption of contaminated medical syrups.

The Alkamba Times contacted the Ministry of Health through the Director of Health Services, but until this publication, the medium has not received any response.

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