An umbilical cord care gel imported into Nigeria from India by the United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF) has rendered at least five kids blind in Yobe state.
The drug, chlorhexidine, is meant for treating neonatal infection in newborns, but was allegedly wrongly packaged by the manufacturers, Galentic Pharma Ltd in India.
SaharaReporters learned that UNICEF imported the medicine into Nigeria despite prevailing warning by the Federal Ministry of Health not to do so as it is also being manufactured in the country. Federal officials say UNICEF flatly refused to buy the Nigeria-made drugs recommended by the Nigerian government.
Sources at the Ministry told SaharaReporters that the drug was clearly labeled for the treatment of umbilical cords but packaged like eye drops, thereby confusing some parents who proceeded to apply them as such instead of putting them on the navels of the babies.
So far, at least five kids have gone blind as a result, and the numbers are expected to increase, officials said. Similar mislabeling of the same drug is also reported to have led to blindness of kids in Liberia.