LAHORE: The lives of thousands of children of Punjab have been put at risk as the authorities have supplied expired multivitamin syrups to the basic health units (BHUs) across the province, Pakistan Today has learnt.
According to the details, the Integrated Reproductive Maternal Newborn, Child Health & Nutrition (IRMNCH&N) programme has supplied expired nutritious Vidaylin-M syrups to the BHUs while as per the inscription at the packing, the syrups were manufactured in May 2017 and set to expire in May 2018.
Sources in the health department privy to the development informed that the high-ups of the IRMNCH&N programme had ordered to supply the syrup to BHUs of the province despite knowing the fact that they were about to expire within the ongoing month.
“According to the rules, such medicines should be gotten rid of two to three months prior to their date of expiration,” they said and added that instead of rolling back the stock, the authorities had ordered the staff of the BHUs to provide this syrup to a maximum number of children so it could be finished as soon as possible.
They said the Vidayline-M syrup was often prescribed to infants to strengthen their immune system, while adding that at least 50,000 packets of the syrup had been supplied in all BHUs of the province. “Every BHU has been directed to distribute at least 50 packets of the syrup,” sources said.
An official in the health department, while seeking anonymity, told Pakistan Today that a few officers in the department procured extra medicines to secure their commission and added that according to PEPRA’s rules, the said syrup was to be removed from the shelves at least two months before it reached its date of expiry.
“It was the authorities’ responsibility to inform the medicine company regarding the expiry date of the syrup so that the stock could be replaced with a new one,” he said and added that usage of the expired syrup could have fatal effects among children.
He was of the view that if a medicine was available at home, parents usually gave it to their children without following guidelines inscribed at the packet and it had harmful effects on the child’s health.
Speaking to Pakistan Today, IRMNCH&N Project Additional Director Operations Dr Akhtar Rasheed said that using the syrup till the last date of its expiry was safe. He said that a small quantity of the said syrup had been provided to the BHUs and it would be utilised within a few days.
Akhtar also said that there was no need to remove it from the shelves till the last date of the syrup’s expiry.