The World Health Organization (WHO) has raised an alarm about a batch of cold syrup named Naturcold, sold in Cameroon, containing alarmingly high levels of toxic contaminants. Earlier, the National Agency for Food and Drugs Administration and Control had issued warnings in Nigeria against the use of Naturcold after six children under five years of age died at a health facility in the Fundong health district, in Cameroon’s North-West region.
Last year, over 300 children, predominantly under five years old, died in Gambia, Indonesia, and Uzbekistan due to acute kidney injury caused by cough syrups contaminated with high levels of diethylene glycol and ethylene glycol.
The WHO reported that Naturcold Syrup was first detected on March 13, 2023, and samples were made available to the organization on June 27, 2023. The analysis revealed unacceptable amounts of diethylene glycol as contaminants, with levels reaching up to 28.6 percent, far exceeding the acceptable limit of 0.10 percent. Both diethylene glycol and ethylene glycol are toxic to humans when ingested and can lead to fatalities.
The use of substandard products, particularly in children, poses serious health risks, and WHO warns of potential injuries or deaths. Toxic effects may include abdominal pain, vomiting, diarrhea, altered mental state, and acute kidney injury, ultimately leading to death.
The manufacturer listed on the product packaging, Fraken International (England), has been found to be non-existent by the United Kingdom’s regulatory authority, the MHRA. Further investigations are underway to determine the product’s origin, and it’s possible that the syrup may have marketing authorizations in other countries or regions and may have been distributed through informal markets to neighboring countries.