Harare, November 5, 2013 -The controversial bilharzia medication being administered in Zimbabwe has claimed the lives of three children.
The children aged between five and eight died after severely reacting to bilharzia and intestinal worms medication that is being administered to children under the mass drug administration campaign. The drug is said to have been condemned in other countries. Some parents had called for a thorough investigation into the drug, Praziquantel (Biltriucide) saying there has not been enough sensitisation about its side effects.
The Permanent Secretary in the Ministry of Health and Child Care, Dr Gerald Gwinji told the ZBC News that the three deaths were recorded in Budiriro and Kambuzuma suburbs in Harare and in Redcliff, Kwekwe.
Dr Gwinji confirmed that all the three had taken tablets that are being administered under the mass drug administration of bilharzia and intestinal worms.
Dr Gwinji said all the three children are reported to have started vomiting and developed diarrhoea the same day that they had taken the medication, adding the ministry has engaged a pathologist to carry out investigations.
Parents or guardians of the three children did not seek medical attention after their children were taken ill, and Dr Gwinji said it is important to report any severe side effects when children have taken medication.
The bilharzia and intestinal worms mass drug administration exercise is targeting at least four million children and is being carried out in both primary and secondary schools as well as designated health facilities across the country.
The campaign began on the 28th of last month and was initially expected to last for five days, but due to overwhelming response, the exercise has been extended.
Some teachers’ unions advised their membership not to be involved in administering the medication since they were not trained as medical personnel.