Mumbai: The death of Chandni Shaikh, a 12-year-old student of Sanjay Nagar Municipal School, had the parents of her schoolmates’ in a tizzy on Friday. The parents believe that Shaikh died after she was administered iron folic acid tablets by school authorities on Monday (August 6), as part of a national immunisation programme.
“After consuming the tablets, Chandni suddenly vomited blood and died on Thursday night,” alleged Syed Shaikh, the father. In a state of panic, the parents gave a knee jerk response by rushing their children to Ghatkopar’s Rajawadi and Shatabadi Hospitals for a medical check-up. There was reason for concern as these children had complained of nausea, giddiness and vomiting. Result: In no time, 471 students had been hospitalised. They were, however, all sent back home after being kept under observation for a few hours. Shabu Khan, a mother of three, was extremely pensive as all her kids study in the same school. She was waiting outside the children’s ward just to hear doctors say that her children were fine.
Khan, speaking to The Free Press Journal, said that daughters Pari and Muskan and son Arman had complained of nausea. “All three were given some medicines by the school authority without my knowledge. My daughter Pari was given medicines on August 4 and the other two children had medicines last week. They complained of stomach pain, fever and threw up.” Another teary-eyed mother, Khairunisha Raiz, was seen rushing towards the children’s ward looking for a doctor to treat her son who had complained of severe stomach pain.
Raiz’s son, 13-year-old Avesh, a Class 7 student, was given medicine on Friday morning during school hours. Raiz said, “Our children were vomiting and many had fainted. The school gave medicines to the children, but with whose permission? When we went to fetch our children on Friday afternoon, there was no teacher around to tell us what was happening.” Padmaja Keskar, Executive Health Officer, Brihanmumbai Municipal Corporation (BMC), confirmed that the students had been given supplements but declined to comment on the cause of Shaikh’s death.
She merely said, “Every week, students are given iron-folic acid (IFA) tablets. As per my knowledge, these medicines do not have severe side effects that can kill someone. In rare cases, people complain of vomiting. Once Shaikh’s post-mortem report is available, only then will the cause of death be clear.” Another civic official added that municipal school students are given IFA tablets under the National Iron Plus programme, an initiative of the Central government. The initiative began in November last year and until now no case of death has been reported. Sanjay Nagar School (Urdu Medium) at Govandi has 1,269 students, 637 of whom attend the morning session and 632 attend the afternoon session. Iron and folic acid supplements are giving to fight off anaemia among children.