BHUBANESWAR: Even as incidents of adverse medical reactions due to administration of expired drugs at Government-run hospitals and health camps are on the rise, the State Government seems to be more concerned about covering them up than taking corrective measures to prevent such occurrences.
An attempted cover-up of such incident in Kendrapara district last year has come to the fore with the National Human Rights Commission directing the State Health Department to conduct a fresh inquiry into the case.
The Commission observed that attempts have been made to conceal facts and hence a fresh inquiry is required. It directed the Secretary to conduct the inquiry through senior officers of the Department and ensure that no doctor of the district concerned should be associated with it.
The case pertains to alleged reactions on children who had taken albendazole oral suspension at a de-worming camp held at a school in Garadpur block of Kendrapara district on November 5, 2014. A petition had been filed by rights activist Akhand stating that 100 children between one and 10 years of age were given the syrup doses at the camp organised by ASHA workers and ANMs of the locality. After taking the medicine, 36 children from Behula village fell sick and were treated at the Patkura hospital. It then came to light that the medicines given had expired in June 2014, he alleged.
Acting on the petition, the Commission had sought a report from the Health Secretary. The Secretary in her reply stated that the matter was enquired by a team comprising Additional District Medical Officer (Family Welfare), chairperson of the District Child Welfare Committee, ICDA programme officer and district child protection officer Kendrapara.
They submitted that six vials were found to have expired in June and administered to six children but none suffered any adverse effect. There was also no report of mass hospitalisation of children from the village. The team stated that it was an act of unscrupulous villagers, who mischievously collected bottles of expired albendazole from elsewhere and shown it with the intention of maligning the health staff.
The Commission, however, was not satisfied and directed a fresh inquiry by neutral officers from outside the district.