On Wednesday, the Indonesian government announced a ban on all syrup and liquid medicine prescriptions and over-the-counter sales, after the deaths of nearly 100 children from acute kidney injury this year.
The ban comes as the Southeast Asian country’s health authorities probe an unexplained rise in the number of children’s deaths from acute kidney injury (AKI) since January.
It also comes after nearly 70 children died in The Gambia earlier this year (also from AKI) in a scandal linked to four Indian-made cough syrups.
“Until today, we have received 206 reported cases from 20 provinces with 100 deaths,” the health ministry’s spokesperson Syahril Mansyur told a press briefing.
“As a precaution, the ministry has asked all health workers in health facilities not to prescribe liquid medicine or syrup temporarily … we also asked drug stores to temporarily stop non-prescription liquid medicine or syrup sales until the investigation is completed,” he added
The rise in cases of AKI accelerated further since late August, the ministry spokesperson said, adding that a probe was launched last week.
“Since late August 2022, the ministry and the paediatrician association have received increasing reports of acute kidney injury. The jump is sharp,” the spokesperson said.
Most of the cases reported in Indonesia involved children aged under 18 — mainly toddlers under five years old, the ministry said.
Before the recent rise, the ministry typically saw only one or two cases of AKI a month.