By Omar Bah
The leader of the opposition Gambia Moral Congress has confirmed to The Standard that he has been consulted by two parents whose deceased children were diagnosed with AKI to determine the proper legal course of action.
In August, The Standard published about a previously mysterious disease killing children in the country.
Having been identified as AKI, health authorities have since been investigating and taking actions for the past two months.
Since its connection to paracetamol syrup was established, the Ministry of Health and the Medicines Control Agency have suspended the distribution and have yesterday started an exercise to recall all paracetamol syrup.
However, on Wednesday, the director general of the World Health Organisation issued a medical product alert for contaminated medicines linked to Acute Kidney Injury, AKI, which has been killing children in The Gambia.
Since the announcement from the WHO chief, there have been calls from prominent Gambians for legal actions to be taken against those responsible.
Mai Fatty, a trained lawyer, told The Standard that they are in advanced consultations with other relevant stakeholders who are very keen to procure consequences. He added that the death of 66 Gambian children must incur punitive legal consequences as it is very tragic for such young lives to be cut so short, very devastating.
“We will be looking at a wide array of issues, including the entire value chain. Certainly, there are laws regulating drugs, their importation, storage, distribution and dispensation. There is a whole chain that must be unmasked and liability ascribed where it ought to,” Fatty said.
He added that there has been good cooperation although some of the culprits are outside the jurisdiction.
“But in this day and age, it is impossible to shield yourself permanently from the long arm of the law. We shall get to them at some stage,” he added.
Fatty said the Gambia Government should be commended for being forthright with information, for recalling the poison from the market.
“Some of the victims are now ready to do what is legally required. They are prepared to go to the moon, where legally feasible, to seek specific remedies, and I will support them,” he concluded.
Meanhile reacting to the WHO chief’s report, human rights activist, Madi Jobarteh said: “The Gambia Government is notorious for failing children. In 2000, 14 schoolchildren were killed. In 2020, dozen children were abused in Penny Appeal homes. In 2021, 9 kids burnt to death in Bilal boarding school. Today, 66 kids perished. Still No Accountability!”
He said criminal investigation should be open forthwith to bring the culprit to book.
Mr Jobarteh said the Ministry of Health as well as the Medicines Control Agency and the Pharmacy Council including other health related bodies must be transparent and honest to citizens by providing the full information about this crisis.
“It is not acceptable that bad medicines should find their way into homes. While I am aware of the huge illegal trade in medicines globally, it makes all the more sense that Gambians must be alarmed. How do we know if there are no bad medicines in the market already?
“Therefore, these bodies must work harder to cleanse the system and assure Gambians that the medicines they consume are safe and will cure them. All citizens as well as CSOs and political parties should take this matter extremely seriously. A contamination in medicines is a direct threat to lives. There should be no complacency. Citizens have the right and deserve to know who and what is responsible for the presence of deadly medicines in the health system,” he said.