Vitamin A deaths blamed on Indian government

- Last updated on GMT

Related tags: United nations

The Indian government has been accused of causing the deaths of
more than 20 children last year by wrongly administering doses of
vitamin A in a UNICEF-backed anti-blindness campaign.

The Indian government has been accused of causing the deaths of more than 20 children last year by wrongly administering doses of vitamin A in a UNICEF-backed anti-blindness campaign.

In a report last week, the Assam Human Rights Commission said there was evidence that some of the deaths were the fault of government workers who did not examine whether the children could take the medication.

"If one looks at the cause of death from the medico-legal aspect, there is every possibility that some of the children died due to Vitamin A poisoning or allergy to Vitamin A,"​ said the commission, Assam's leading human rights group.

The group placed the blame for the deaths on "agencies or instrumentalities or the public functionaries of the state government."

The report added that few supervisors at the anti-blindness campaign's booths noticed if the children were in ill health before administering the vitamin dose."Vitamin A might have precipitated their deaths,"​ the 12-page report said.

The rights group, which based its findings on reports by the state government and UNICEF, recommended that India's top investigating agency, the Central Bureau of Investigation, launch a probe into the Vitamin A campaign.

The rights commission said it could not look into the activities of UNICEF as it does not fall under the group's purview.

UNICEF, or the United Nations Children's Fund, has said the Vitamin A doses it provided were safe. The Assam government has absolved the agency of wrongdoing.

At least 23 children died and thousands became ill with fever, nausea, diarrhoea, and vomiting after some three million youngsters took part in the anti-blindness programme in November.

Related topics: Research

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