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Tragedy: Cough Syrup kills Indonesian Children


The young boy, who was five years old, had just celebrated Indonesia's Independence Day at home in Medan with his family. He used his mother's phone to record videos of himself laughing and dancing.

The housewife and maid had little concern when Mohammad Fajar, Siti's son, started experiencing health issues at the end of August this year.
The young boy, who was five years old, had just celebrated Indonesia's Independence Day at home in Medan with his family. He used his mother's phone to record videos of himself laughing and dancing.

Siti, a pure Indonesian, thought her sole child was well enough to fend off a cold.
She offered cough medicine from the neighbourhood drugstore to help him feel better. Fajar passed away on September 15, however.
He may have died from suspected renal failure brought on by the widely available medications to help him recover from his cold rather than the illness itself.

Siti requested that a photo of him in the hospital be shared so that others might see how unwell he had become and said to Al Jazeera, "It's very lonely without him." It was too late for us to save him.

Fajar has joined the numerous Indonesian kids who have passed away since August after ingesting cough syrups that were perhaps tainted with chemicals from anti-freeze goods. The Indonesian government has ordered the withdrawal of syrup-based medicines from sale and has revoked permits for more than 1,000 such goods in response to the deaths.

Two pharmaceutical firms, according to BPOM, are currently being investigated after it was thought that they had moved to obtain chemicals from chemical suppliers rather than pharmaceutical suppliers, potentially resulting in contamination.
In October, at a news conference in Jakarta, BPOM's Penny Lukito stated, "There are indicators in their products that [chemical levels] were excessive, highly hazardous, and suspected of causing kidney harm."

The head of Indonesia's child protection agency in Langkat, North Sumatra, Malahayati, told Al Jazeera that the organisation was "extremely concerned" about the recent string of fatalities.
She said that the government should act quickly to ascertain how this began and offer a remedy so that there are no more victims.

As of October 26, Indonesia has more than 269 cases of acute renal failure, according to Mohammad Syahril, a spokesman for the health ministry. He stated that 157 of those impacted had passed away. According to experts, both figures are likely an undercount, pointing out that many people were unaware of the potentially tainted medications. Experts said some initial instances might not have been identified as kidney failure since the children were also afflicted with other illnesses.
Following an inquiry, the ministry reported that it had discovered that several syrups used to treat coughs, colds, and fevers had been tainted with substances such as diethylene glycol and ethylene glycol butyl ether, ethylene glycol.

The compounds had been discovered in locally produced goods, including cough and fever remedies Flurin DMP Syrup and Flurin DMP Syrup, as well as the fever remedies Termorex Syrup, Unibebi Fever Syrup, and Unibebi Fever Drops.
Indonesia had to beg its neighbours, including Australia and Singapore, for the antidote, a drug called fomepizole. However, the potential cure arrived too late for Fajar, whose sickness, like many other youngsters affected across the nation, initially seemed benign.

Siti told Al Jazeera, "I went to the local pharmacy and got some liquid paracetamol for him since I believed it was just a regular temperature, but it wouldn't go down."
Siti decided to bring Fajar to the hospital since every time his fever fluctuated, it rose again in a few hours. When Siti arrived, she was informed that Fajar had been put on a drip and most likely had dengue fever, a condition brought on by mosquito bites. Sadly, Siti could not afford to keep her son in the hospital for additional examinations and observation since she lacks health insurance, like many Indonesians.

"I chose to take him home and attempt to find additional money for his treatment after he received one bag of medication through the drip", she said.
Siti was still treating Fajar's fever with locally sourced syrups as she tried to raise money from friends and neighbours.

Fajar's condition gradually worsened during the days, but he temporarily showed improvement, regaining some energy and his appetite.
This time, Siti called Fajar's father, a labourer who works in the neighbouring province of Aceh, and requested he returns home. Fajar was lying in bed, unable to move, gasping for air while gazing up at the ceiling when he came.

Fajar was due to be admitted to intensive care by the time his family was able to bring him back to the hospital, according to the medical staff.
It isn't perfect, and he is in critical condition. Therefore it would be best to pray, one of the physicians told Siti.

Sri Wulandari, Siti's cousin, stayed watch by Fajar's bedside because Siti could not bear the sight of him in the hospital bed, now connected to a ventilator. The doctor entered and said, "Wait, we're trying our best," but five minutes later, the 30-year-old was dead, the witness said. "His breathing got ragged, and he was dead," the witness said.

I was unsure how to inform his mother. However, she saw my face right away because I was crying.
"The doctors who cared for Fajar at Adam Malik Hospital claimed he had died from kidney failure and that they would have started him on dialysis if he hadn't been so frail", Wulandari and Siti stated in an interview with Al Jazeera.

The family was unaware of the possibly toxic syrups and had not heard of small children passing away from severe kidney failure. Siti claimed that two weeks ago, representatives from the neighbourhood health department visited her residence and removed the fever-relief medication she had provided to Fajar.

When contacted by Al Jazeera, the health department stated that it had taken medication from the homes of suspected kidney failure patients for testing. Still, it refused to disclose any of the test results. A representative for the health department revealed to Al Jazeera that 11 patients, all of whom were children, had already passed away from acute kidney failure in the North Sumatra province, which contains Medan.


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