The story behind the sanitiser-polio drop mishap in Maharashtra’s Yavatmal

12 Adivasi children were administered sanitiser instead of oral Polio vaccine in Maharashtra's Yavatmal district.

Credit : IBTimes India

In a tribal village of Yavatmal district of Maharashtra, 12 Adivasi children were administered sanitiser instead of oral Polio vaccine during the nationwide vaccination drive on Sunday. The children were admitted to the District Hospital when they complained of uneasiness and vomiting. One of the parents, Kisan Gedam, two of whose children were victims, spoke to Indie Journal as he waited at the District Hospital of Yavatmal where his children have been admitted.

According to Gedam, the Community Health Officer (CHO) from Primary Health Centre (PHC) in Bhambura village delivered the doses of Polio vaccine on Sunday morning at around 9:30 am to Kapshi-Kopri Anganwadi Centre. The Health Officer carried the polio vaccine and a small bottle of sanitiser in the same kit. He handed over the sanitiser instead of the polio vaccine to Asha worker and Anganwadi worker, who administered the sanitiser to 12 children from a nearby village. Girish Gedam (3) and Yogishree Gedam (6), siblings from towns of Kapshi-Kopri were among the first who were given doses.

Sarpanch Yuvraj Marape of Kapshi-Kopri, who visited the Anganwadi Centre to oversee the vaccination noticed that the children were being given sanitiser, and Polio vaccine drops were not used from the package given to the health officer. But by then, doses were given to more nine-10 children.

Marape brought this to the attention of the health workers. Girish and Yogishree had already left from Anganwadi by that time. Asha worker and Anganwadi worker followed the children to their homes, asked them to return to the PHC for vaccination. One of the children complained of vomiting and uneasiness. Gedam rushed his children to the nearby hospital, where they are being treated under observation of government doctors.

"The health officers are trained for years. I can’t understand how a medical officer cannot distinguish between a polio dose and sanitiser. Even I can identify which one is the vaccine. This carelessness could have cost us the lives of our children. If there were any toxic ingredients in sanitiser, we would have lost them," said Gedam.

Marape confirmed that the Community Health Officer had newly joined the PHC centre. “The Dean from District Hospital has not yet confirmed the name of the Community Health Officer. Strict actions must be taken against those officers who are responsible for the same,” he added.

The District Collector M Devinder Singh visited the children at the District Hospital early morning at around 5:30 am. Yavatmal Zilla Parishad CEO Shrikrishna Panchal also visited the hospital.