As the Government of India initiated a deworming drive on Feb 10, school children in many districts of Bihar, Rajasthan, Maharashtra, Haryana and Chhattisgarh were administered with albendazole tablets.
But more than 200 children complained of uneasiness and were taken to the district hospitals. In one such case, an eight-year-old girl in Udham Singh Nagar district in Uttarakhand fell ill after taking the tablet and was admitted to Dr. Sushila Tiwari Government Medical College and Hospital.
‘Health Ministry has stated that the death of an eight-year-old girl speculated to be due to albendazole tablet was because of pneumonia and asserted that the drug was safe and efficient.’
Unfortunately, the girl died at the hospital which led to several speculations about the safety and efficacy of the deworming tablet.
The state commission for protection of child rights (SCPCR) had taken suo moto cognizance of the death and also issued a notice to the director of health department seeking a detailed report.
Now, the chief medical officer (CMO) of Udham Singh Nagar has submitted a report to the Health Ministry stating that the child died due to pneumonia and the symptoms depicted by the child were not produced as a side effect of Albendazole.
"The report from the district CMO submitted to the ministry has clearly negated this causal relationship, terming the deworming drug as safe and effective," the ministry said in a statement.
However, the ministry has also stated that there is "no need to worry or panic" as the drug is WHO-approved and has "mild side effects" on some children for a short time.