We are deeply concerned about the report of a 16-month-old boy dying and several hundred children falling sick in Jamalpur Upazila allegedly after taking Vitamin A capsules during the latest Vitamin A Plus Campaign. More so, because it comes only a few weeks after a Vitamin A capsule campaign was postponed following reports that some batches of the capsules were found stuck to the packets they were in and could be damaged.
In the latest case, officials are saying that only children of one upazila seem to have been affected and that 2 crore children have been given the Vitamin A plus capsules without any incident. But the fact remains that a large number of infants have fallen ill and one has died after consuming the capsule, and until a conclusive investigation is done, nobody can assume that this will not happen again. It is not surprising that panic has spread among parents making them reluctant to get their children immunised. And for the officials to urge parents to continue to bring their children to the centres to receive the capsules and to say that there is no cause for panic is irresponsible, to say the least, when the probe committee's investigation has not been completed.
It goes without saying that such immunisation campaigns are essential in ensuring that our children are not afflicted with dangerous illnesses such as night blindness or low immunity (which Vitamin A prevents). But we are talking about the lives and health of infants here, thus every precaution must be taken to ensure that a drive to protect them from ill health does not backfire because due diligence in quality control and monitoring was not maintained. We urge the authorities to thoroughly investigate the incidents and make public the results of the probe before resuming the drive. This is the only way to quell any misgivings among parents and make such immunisation campaigns successful.