Following a series of deaths connected to cough syrups last year, the World Health Organization (WHO) has issued an urgent plea for action to safeguard children from contaminated medications.
Over 300 children, mostly under the age of five, died in Gambia, Indonesia, and Uzbekistan from acute kidney damage. Reportedly caused by contaminated medications, these contained high quantities of dangerous chemicals including diethylene glycol and ethylene glycol that are utilized as industrial solvents and antifreeze agents.
WHO has warned that additional nations, including the Philippines, Timor-Leste, Senegal, and Cambodia, may be impacted. The organization has urged its 194 member states to take measures to prevent future fatalities.
WHO previously issued specific product alerts and urged for the recall of cough syrups manufactured by Maiden Pharmaceuticals and Marion Biotech, as well as warnings for syrups manufactured by four Indonesian companies.
The organization recommended governments and authorities devote resources to checking manufacturers. It also advised strengthening market monitoring, taking appropriate action, and companies to only purchase raw materials from qualified suppliers, properly test their products, and preserve records of the process.
Suppliers and dealers were also encouraged to look for indicators of falsification and to only supply or sell certified medications.