'Immediate action' urged after toxic cough syrup deaths

'Immediate action' urged after toxic cough syrup deaths

The World Health Organization has called for "immediate and concerted action" to protect children from contaminated medicines after a spate of child deaths linked to cough syrups last year.

In 2022, more than 300 children - mainly aged under 5 - in Gambia, Indonesia and Uzbekistan died of acute kidney injury, in deaths that were associated with contaminated medicines, the WHO said.

The medicines, over-the-counter cough syrups, had high levels of diethylene glycol and ethylene glycol.

"These contaminants are toxic chemicals used as industrial solvents and antifreeze agents that can be fatal even taken in small amounts, and should never be found in medicines," the WHO said.

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