No child deserves to die in this manner in our country. We join the entire citizenry in prayers for their eternal repose. This unfortunate incident reveals several weaknesses in our pre & post-natal healthcare system. Even before this unprecedented tragedy infant and maternal mortalities in the Gambia have reached alarming proportions.
A few days ago, UDP received the shocking alert issued by the World Health Organization (WHO) confirming the deaths of sixty-six children (as of yesterday the number of deaths stands at 69) who died as a result of Acute Kidney Injury (AKI) caused by contaminated pharmaceuticals imported from a company in India.
The processes for the importation of medicines into the country have failed on this occasion. How did the officials at the regulatory body who are tasked with ensuring the population’s access to safe medicines allow the importation of these medications and their subsequent use?
It is also evident that our laboratories were not able to conduct required tests, unduly delayed the country’s ability to discover the problem earlier. The deepest concern is that these deaths may not reflect the total fatalities or other associated consequences of these contaminated medicines.
UDP urgently calls on the Government to determine the full scope of this national catastrophe to prevent its reoccurrence. What is clear from the publicly available information is that the medical authorities charged with the responsibility of regulating the importation, testing and distribution of pharmaceuticals have failed in their duties, and the consequences are the heart-wrenching loss of precious young lives.
UDP believes that collaboration with Gambia’s development partner such as the WHO WTO UNCHR the regulatory authorities of the Gambia can ensure that only globally tested and approved medicines will be allowed into Gambia.
The President’s five-minute address to the nation on a matter so critical has escalated the citizens’ already shaken confidence in their government. President Barrow has failed to acknowledge fully the severity of this preventable tragedy.
At a time of national bereavement, the President failed to demonstrate empathy for the victims, their families, and a traumatized nation left to wonder what other pharmaceuticals are on the market that may be fake or unsafe for use/consumption.
Out of utter indifference, President Barrow reduced the unacceptably number of dead children to a mere statistics that was consistent with monthly fatalities happening in the country at this time of year. Rationalising the poison-induced deaths of children as routine statistics is insensitive and totally unacceptable.
None of our children deserves to die from preventable conditions! In acknowledging the alert issued by WHO, the UDP expresses its profound gratitude to the hundreds of health workers who are working under exceedingly difficult circumstances to deliver health services to our people.
UDP demands that President Barrow takes full responsibility and hold accountable the regulatory body and all other authorities within the health service delivery system for this catastrophic tragedy.
The UDP calls on the Gambia Government to set up an independent inquiry to determine the full extent of this unfortunate incident. Furthermore, UDP urges the Gambia Revenue Authority & Gambia Ports Authority to establish a more robust inspection and testing framework for all imported medicines and foodstuff.
Finally, UDP calls on the National Assembly Select Committee on Health to exercise its oversight function by summoning the Minister of Health and all other relevant officials to appear before the House and explain how the contaminated medicines were imported and used in the country.
United Democratic Party Secretariat
76 Alpha Tafsir Street, Banjul