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Cough syrups kill 300 children, WHO issues another alert

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The World Health Organisation (WHO) has issued a fresh warning to all the countries after finding a possible link between child cough syrup and the death of over 300 children from different countries.

Over the past few weeks, the WHO has highlighted the massive amount of presence of two highly toxic chemicals in cough syrups which are massively used for kids.

The two toxic chemicals which were found in the contaminated cough syrups are — diethylene glycol (DEG) and ethylene glycol (EG).

In the statement, the global health body stated, “These are toxic chemicals used as industrial solvents and antifreeze agents, which can be fatally ingested even in small amounts, and should never be found in medicines.”

The high levels of these two toxic chemicals are linked directly to causing severe complications in the body of the ones who consume them, especially kids, who are prone to such foreign diseases.

The countries which have seen the maximum number of death cases, associated with contaminated cough syrups are Gambia, Indonesia, and Uzbekistan. The WHO has also cautioned that most of these kids are under the age of five.

The WHO officials have issued warnings against three global medical products since 2022. Out of these six drug companies are from India and Indonesia. Taking cognizance of the rising death cases due to cough syrup consumption, the WHO has said that most of these cases are not isolated, and immediate and coordinated action is important to keep the deteriorating situation under control.

How Do Diethylene Glycol And Ethylene Glycol Effect The Body?

To understand the connection between the deaths of the kids and the consumption of cough syrup which was carrying two toxic chemicals namely Diethylene Glycol And Ethylene Glycol.

These two chemicals are toxic to humans when consumed in any amount, and can also turn fatal. The substandard products referenced in the annex that these two chemicals are unsafe and their use, especially in children can result in serious injury or death. 

Why are these two toxic chemicals used? 

Diethylene glycol (DEG) is used as a sweetener. It is a colorless, nonodoriferous, hygroscopic liquid commonly used in the commercial preparation of antifreeze.

However, keeping in view of the recent surge in deaths in kids, the global health body has notified the countries to notify the WHO officials about any cough syrups which contain these two toxic chemicals. “WHO is releasing an urgent call to action to countries to prevent, detect and respond to incidents of substandard and falsified medical products,” the global health agency said.

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