Victims of botched deworming blame school for woes

Victims of botched deworming blame school for woes
Doctors at Maridi Hospital attend to some of the Ibba school children who developed adverse side effects of Praziquantel (photo credit: courtesy)

The victims of the botched deworming campaign who were evacuated from Maridi to Juba Teaching Hospital have said they were forced by the school administration to take the drugs.

The botched deworming incident leftover 100 learners from five different primary and secondary schools in Ibba County bedridden.

The learners developed complications after swallowing Praziquantel tablets that were given to them as part of a campaign by the ministry of health and World Health Organisation (WHO) to deworm children between the ages of 5 to 16 against bilharzia.

Four of the children who were airlifted by the government to Juba when their situations deteriorated said they were forced to receive the deworming tablets.

Speaking to The City Review on permission from caregivers yesterday, a Senior 1 student from Ibba Girls Boarding School, Giddy Ajen (not her real name), said they had been forced to take the tablets.  

She protested the incident and called on the medical personnel and teachers never again to force anybody to take any medicine brought before briefing the acquainting themselves with the recipient’s potential side effects.

“[We came] from breakfast [and] when we took the medicine from there, the reaction started; we started sweating and vomiting. We experienced several complications especially me I suffered a lot,” she narrated.

She praised the government for a quick response by referring four of them to Juba after their situations got worse.

“We are now feeling good [and] we thank the government so much for bringing us here and the doctors who worked on us. We give thanks to God and people [who] have been praying for us and may God prolong our lives in this world so that we may leave longer,” she remarked.

 Ajen revealed that by yesterday, her colleagues had already started the examination adding that those affected by the dangerous deworming missed a lot of important lessons.

“My message to them is that if anything is brought to the school, they must first investigate or must consult with them about it.

It [is not a must] that anything brought to the school must be forcefully given to us.. It must be out of our will,” she urged in an interview with The City Review yesterday.

Another victim, a 17-year-old girl Jacky Liana (not her real name), who is in Primary 8 in Ibba Girls School, said she was feeling better after being treated with anti-drug and other medicines.

Jacky who had suffered chest pains induced by the complications caused by the deworming tablet said the incident had affected her studies a lot even though she is a candidate who is supposed to prepare for the national examination.

“It affected me so much because, at this time, I am supposed to be at school. But now I am here even there is no book near me that I can study even no one is teaching me when my friends are there now learning,” she lamented.

“I am feeling bad when I am seeing my friends going to school. I am supposed to be at school because the time for final exams is not far away; the time is short” she added.

She said she did not believe that she would be fine again heal when she developed complications after taking the medicine. She said she became unconscious and did not know what was happening to her.

“I just felt my head was rotating and I was not feeling well, my body was weak. I was having some painful reaction from [chest] and I felt like vomiting but there was no vomit coming,” she said.

The teenager urged health practitioners to carry with them anti-drugs when conducting any campaign of eradicating preventable diseases to avoid recurrence of such incidents in the future.

“If they are coming with deworming again let them first check [and] not give something they do not know its side effect. If they are coming with medicine let them come with the anti-drug because any side effect that will arise to make it will easy to manage,” she urged.

She appealed to the school administration to collaborate with the health officials to identify where the medicine is brought before giving it to the people.

 “Let them identify where is the medicine is coming from, which organization and they will know if the drug had been used by many people before allowing it for the school children,” she said.