Jakarta – The rampant cases of acute kidney injury (AKI) among children were "most likely" caused by the use of contaminated syrup medicines because the number has dropped significantly since the government banned their prescription and sales, Health Minister Budi Gunadi Sadikin said on Sunday.
"The culprit is most likely [syrup] medicines ... because after those medicines were banned the number of hospitalized patients dropped by around 95 percent," Budi told Kompas news website.
"And also after we collected and examined those medicines they did contain dangerous chemicals," he added.
His remarks came 12 days after the Health Ministry imposed a blanket ban on syrup medicines which in several other countries were linked to a surge in kidney injury cases among young children.
The decision was followed a day later by a Food and Drug Supervisory Agency (BPOM)'s order for the recall of five brands of paracetamol and cough syrups for allegedly containing ethylene glycol (EG) and diethylene glycol (DEG).
The ministry has procured the antidote called fomepizole from Japan, Singapore, and Australia to treat child patients with chemical poisoning.
"We distribute the medication across hospitals that treat those patients and as I observe the death toll is falling drastically and hopefully it will eventually go to zero," the minister said.
Indonesia has recorded 269 cases of children with AKI and 157 deaths during the past 10 months, according to the latest government data.