My daughter fell ill because of the tablets, says father of deceased teen
Father of deceased teen says she was fine until she took the tablets distributed in school; all BMC schools to stop giving the medicines while FDA investigates
"My daughter had no illness. The tablet given at school made her ill," said Shahid Shaikh, father of Chandni, 14, who died yesterday after consuming health supplements and deworming pills distributed at the local civic school.
"She started complaining of stomach ache after taking the tablet four days ago. Whenever she tried to eat, she could taste nothing but the medicine. Then, she suddenly began vomiting blood. We immediately took her to Rajawadi hospital," the grieving father recalled.
Shahid Shaikh, Chandni's father, is sure the tablets are to blame for his daughter's death. Like Chandni, a majority of children who fell ill live in Sanjay Nagar
Wait and watch
"Chandni was given iron and folic acid tablets in school on August 6. These tablets are given in several schools under our health programme. The following day, Chandni did not go to school, but she did attend on the next two days. On the fourth morning, she passed away. We are waiting for the post-mortem report to understand what led to her death," said Padmaja Keskar, executive health officer, BMC.
Many kids take ill
By the afternoon, as many as 426 students were rushed to Rajawadi Hospital in Ghatkopar, out of whom 17 were admitted. Another 76 students went to Shatabdi Hospital in Govandi, of whom 11 patients were admitted for nausea and vomiting. While parents claimed their children had fallen ill after taking the school medicines, the hospital authorities stated that the kids' condition was more likely induced by panic.
Shahid Shaikh, Chandni's father
Among the hundreds of kids who thronged the hospital yesterday was Chandni's neighbour, Sabira Khan, 8, a student of Baiganwadi Urdu School. On hearing about Chandni's death, Sabira's mother Saira rushed to school to check on her daughter. "I was anxious that something wrong had happened to my daughter. Her forehead felt warm, and she complained of stomach ache," said the worried mother.
Mohammed Shaikh, whose daughter Zeenat was being examined at Rajawadi hospital's casualty ward, said, "Since we have prayers on Friday, my daughter got done early at school. When I went to pick her up, she complained of giddiness and nausea. She said she had been given medicine in school. We immediately brought her to the hospital."
Another parent at the hospital, Sumaiya Khatun, had brought her son Aibatullah to ward 8. "He has vomited twice. I am really worried now."
Despite the mass malaise, the civic health authorities insisted there was no reason to panic. "To feel ill and show symptoms clinically are two different things. These kids are too small to understand what is happening. This is a panic situation that has arisen after Chandni's death," said Archana Bhalerao, chairwoman of the Public Health Committee.
Dr Vidya Thakur, dean of Rajawadi Hospital, told this paper, "We precisely examined, reviewed and monitored the health of the students who were rushed in. We began discharging them as and when we were confident about their well-being. 15 patients have been admitted for observation because of complaints from their end."
A medical officer on duty at Shatabdi Hospital, said, "76 patients were brought to our hospital, of whom we have admitted 11 who showed symptoms of nausea and vomiting. Most of them were anxious and in panic, and are most likely to be discharged tomorrow."
FDA to investigate
The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) will test samples of the iron-folic acid supplements. Till the report is out, the said batch of medicines will be pulled from all BMC schools and hospitals. Avinash Supe, director of BMC's major hospitals, said, "This is just a precautionary measure."
Input by Rupsa Chakraborty
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