Did Health department's negligence cause the Govandi drug poisoning incident?

Under the Drug and Cosmetics Act, it is mandatory that the medicines can be only distributed in the presence of a doctor and a pharmacist. However, none of them were present while the tablets were given to the students at Govandi Municipal School.

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Drug and Cosmetics Act, 1940 clearly states that it is mandatory that the medicines can be only distributed in the presence of a doctor and a pharmacist. But despite this, the health department hasn't been so sturdy about the regulation. Pharmacist unions and public health organisations have been repeatedly demanding that a pharmacist and/or a doctor must always be present in schools, colleges, universities or NGOs whenever the medicines are being consumed and must be taken as per prescription. 

However, the government did not pay heed to any of their suggestions and due to which, more than 197 students have been admitted to hospital due to drug poisoning along with the death of Grade VI student Chandni Sahil Shaikh

The Health Department had earlier observed that slum and underprivileged areas in the state are hit hard by malnutrition which happens due to lack of iron and vitamins. In response, the health department started a campaign to tackle malnutrition by distributing tablets amongst schools, NGOs, nursery schools in order to reach out to the students suffering from these problems.

Nursery workers, Accredited Social Health Activists (ASHAs) workers and teachers had been trained by the health department and sent to distribute the medicines. However, under the Drug and Cosmetics Act, it is mandatory that the medicines can be only distributed in the presence of a doctor and a pharmacist.

When the state government is playing with these rules, millions of students are put in grave danger. Due to the negligence of the government, incidents like Govandi School take place,” accused Maharashtra Registered Pharmacist Association President Kailash Tandle.

Prior to this incident, some years back, a student had died due to drug poisoning at Hingoli after consuming a tablet. After which, the government grew aware of the issue and their campaign faced a lot of criticism. Despite repeated requests from health organisations, the government hasn’t enforced the compulsion on the presence of a doctor and a pharmacist.

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