Monday 6 July, 2020

Health Ministry clears the air on mystery pills at St Thomas school

File photo of a hospital ward.

File photo of a hospital ward.

The Ministry of Health has confirmed an incident in which several children at a primary school in St Thomas were given pills by an unauthorised person at the institution.

In a statement, the ministry said the St Thomas Health Department (STHD) was alerted on September 14, by the principal of the school, that 19 children had ingested tablets which were not prescribed for them. Some of the children had taken the pills on September 13, and others on September 14.

The Health Ministry said arrangements were made for all the children to be brought to the Princess Margaret Hospital’s (PMH) Accident and Emergency Unit (A&E). It said 18 of the children, accompanied by parents/guardians, the principal and guidance counsellor, were seen at the hospital, with one child being taken to a private practitioner by a parent. 

Some of the children were said to have had symptoms of ailments, with the most common symptom being abdominal pain, followed by drowsiness. All except one child were said to have been clinically well on assessment, with the clinically unwell child being diagnosed and treated for a mild allergy.

The ministry said the 18 children who were seen at the PMH had blood investigations done that produced results which were normal, but the results of a liver function test remain outstanding.

The statement said the children’s health status will be further reviewed upon the receipt of the liver function test results, and the parents/guardians have been advised to return immediately to the health facilities if any problems arise with the children.

The Ministry of Health has warned parents and teachers to be alert for persons who will try to sell or give substances to children in and around schools. It said the substances may appear harmless and look like familiar items, such as sweets, which are generally attractive to children.

Parents are being advised to educate their children on the potential harm from these substances, and in particular for them to refuse any unknown substances from persons known to them, or from strangers.

In the event of the accidental or intentional ingestion of suspicious items, it is advised that immediate medical attention be sought.

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