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Gambia Pauses Paracetamol Syrup

FILE: This is the tablet version of the pain reliever Paracetamol. Gambia has halted the use of paracetamol syrup on children after a number of deaths. Taken 5.25.2015

The Gambia's Health Ministry has asked hospitals to stop using paracetamol syrup after at least 28 children died of kidney failure.

We have clinical evidence to suspect syrup paracetamol may be one of the culprits," Mustapha Bittaye, the director of health services, told AFP Friday in the wake of a series of child deaths.

"We are advising our staff on the medicines to give while awaiting the conclusion of the investigation", the director added.

In a letter sent to the country's regional health directors, hospital chief executives, and clinics this week, Bittaye cited E. coli as another possible cause, and urged officials to encourage hand washing in their institutions, as well as to substitute paracetamol tablets for syrup.

At least 28 children have died of acute renal failure after "a sudden (rise) in cases" among children aged five months to four years old, the ministry said in an August 8 report, with out specifying when they died.

An investigation was opened on July 19, it said.