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Indian maker of syrup linked to death of children in Uzbekistan halts production



(Last Updated On: December 29, 2022)

India’s drug regulator said on Thursday that it had inspected Marion Biotech’s production facility and promised more action based on the probe report after the company’s cough syrup was linked to the death of 19 children in Uzbekistan.

A legal representative of Marion Biotech said the Indian maker of pharmaceuticals and cosmetics regretted the deaths and the company has halted production of the Dok-1 Max syrup, Reuters reported.

The drug regulator reviewed the company’s Noida facility in the Uttar Pradesh state and is in regular touch with its Uzbekistan counterpart, the Indian health ministry said in a statement.

“The samples of the cough syrup have been taken from the manufacturing premises and sent to Regional Drugs Testing Laboratory, Chandigarh for testing,” the ministry said.

Uzbekistan’s health ministry said on Wednesday that at least 18 children in Samarkand city died after consuming the syrup manufactured by the Indian drugmaker.

Another child, a one-year-old, died after being given the syrup for five days, Uzbek news website said on Thursday, citing the Qashqadaryo regional prosecutor’s office.

Officials in the Samarkand region had initially not reported the deaths to the ministry, the report added, citing Health Minister Bekhzod Musayevand.

Seven employees were dismissed by the Uzbek ministry following a probe into the matter, and “disciplinary measures” were taken against some specialists. The Doc-1 Max tablets and syrups have also been withdrawn from all pharmacies, the Uzbek ministry added in its statement on Wednesday.

The syrup contained a toxic substance, ethylene glycol, and was administered in doses higher than the standard dose for children either by their parents, who mistook it for an anti-cold remedy, or on the advice of pharmacists, the Uzbekistan ministry said.

India’s Ministry of Chemicals and Fertilizers issued an order on Thursday, laying out specifications to regulate the sale of ethylene glycol from the end of March.

The incident follows another similar one in Gambia, where deaths of at least 70 children had been linked to cough and cold syrups manufactured by New Delhi-based Maiden Pharmaceuticals Ltd. The Indian government and also the company, however, have since denied the allegations.

India is known as the ‘pharmacy of the world,’ and has doubled its pharmaceutical exports over the last decade, touching $24.5 billion in the last fiscal year.


80 Afghan children to get medical treatment in Germany: ARCS



(Last Updated On: March 21, 2023)

The Afghan Red Crescent Society (ARCS) in cooperation with Germany’s Peace Village plans to take 80 Afghan children to Germany for medical treatment on Thursday.

These children are suffering from bone diseases and severe burns, according to ARCS

Eighty children will be sent to Germany, fifty-five of them for bone disease treatment and the remaining 25 have severe burns, said Irfanullah Sharafzoi, a spokesperson for ARCS.

Sharafzoi also stated that of the 90 children sent for treatment six months ago, 50 of them will return to the country on Wednesday and the rest will come home once they have recovered.

“Fifty of the children who were sent to Germany in the past year will return to the country tomorrow, and 40 of them will be returned to the country after completing their treatment in Germany,” he said.

Habib Hassan, the head of ARCS’ foreign relations said each selection phase takes place every six months and almost 1,000 children are assessed at a time by ARCS.

“So far, [over the years] 4,854 children have been treated through this process,” Hassan said.

Children eligible for treatment have to be between the ages of one and 11 and girls and boys are treated. They have their medical expenses paid by the German Peace Village Charity Foundation.

The foundation has been working in cooperation with ARCS for over 30 years in Afghanistan to facilitate the treatment of children. Wednesday’s group of children will be the 89th group to be sent to Germany.

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New evidence shows origin of COVID could have been raccoon dogs



(Last Updated On: March 18, 2023)

Scientists have uncovered new genetic evidence from the market in Wuhan, China, where COVID cases were first detected in late 2019.

Scientific America reports the findings add support to an animal origin of SARS-CoV-2, the virus that causes COVID.

These findings were presented to an advisory group convened by the World Health Organization earlier this week.

Florence Débarre, an evolutionary biologist at the French National Center for Scientific Research discovered genetic sequences of the virus that researchers in China – led by George Gao, former head of the Chinese Center for Disease Control and Prevention – had uploaded to a public genomic database called GISAID.

According to Scientific America, the sequences were subsequently taken down but not before several other researchers from different countries downloaded and analyzed them.

Samples containing viral RNA, which had been collected at the Huanan Seafood Wholesale Market in early 2020, also contained genetic material from raccoon dogs – a foxlike animal sold at the market – as well as other animals.

The virus sparked a global pandemic that has killed nearly seven million people, and debate has raged over whether it was caused by a natural spillover from wildlife to humans or a lab leak from a facility studying coronaviruses in Wuhan.

The new evidence does not directly prove that COVID jumped into humans from infected raccoon dogs, but it adds to a growing body of evidence in favor of a spillover from animals, Scientific America reported.

“These data do not provide a definitive answer to the question of how the pandemic began, but every piece of data is important in moving us closer to that answer,” said the World Health Organization’s director general Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus in a news briefing on Friday.

The scientists who are analyzing the data are currently preparing a report on their findings, which they hope to release in the coming days.

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IEA’s health minister on six-day visit to Qatar



(Last Updated On: March 16, 2023)

The Minister of Public Health of the Islamic Emirate of Afghanistan (IEA) Dr. Qalandar Ebad left Kabul on Thursday for a six-day visit to Qatar.

Leading a high-ranking IEA delegation, Ebad will meet with Qatari officials to discuss the coordination of health services with Qatar; building capacity for Afghan doctors; and discussing cooperation and investment in the field of health care in Afghanistan, the ministry said.

The ministry added that Ebad will also visit a number of health care facilities in Qatar while in the Gulf country.

The Ministry of Public Health is trying to raise the level of knowledge and expertise of Afghan doctors so that Afghans will no longer need to go abroad for treatment.

Ebad had previously said that nothing has been done in the health sector in the past twenty years.

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