Jakarta. Indonesia has recorded 206 cases of atypical progressive acute kidney injury, including 99 deaths, among children aged five or younger during the past ten months.
Those cases were recorded by health departments from 20 provinces, Health Ministry spokesman M. Syahril said on Wednesday.
His remarks came hours after the ministry published a temporary ban on the sales of non-prescription liquid drugs, amid reports of the deaths of dozens of young children in The Gambia allegedly because of paracetamol syrup.
“There has been a surge in cases since late August that caught our attention. We call it atypical progressive acute kidney injury,” Syahril said at a press conference in Jakarta.
The government in particular is very concerned about the high fatality rate which reaches 48 percent, he added.
“The fatality rate among those patients at RSCM alone, which has been designated as the national referral hospital for kidney problems, reached 65 percent,” the spokesman said, referring to Jakarta’s Cipto Mangunkusumo Hospital.
Syahril said the government cannot immediately confirm if the rising number of cases of kidney failures among children has links to the consumption of paracetamol syrup or other liquid drugs, adding that an investigation is underway.
A day earlier, Indonesian Pediatricians Association (IDAI) chairman Piprim Basarah Yanuarso said the association has received nearly 200 cases of “mysterious kidney problems” among children in 20 provinces in the January-October period.
Jakarta contributed more than a quarter of the overall number, he said.
There are other probable causes for recent kidney problems among children, including one association with Covid-19 called Multisystem Inflammatory Syndrome in Children (MIS-C), Piprim said.
MIS-C is a condition where different body parts such as kidneys become inflamed due to Covid-19.
The IDAI cannot draw a conclusive answer if paracetamol syrup is the culprit behind the surge in kidney problems among children, he said.
According to Piprim, the association received information that a mother in Yogyakarta gave paracetamol syrup to her four children suffering from a cold and all of them recovered without unwanted side effects.
"But her seven-month-old baby died from acute kidney failure without taking any medication," Piprim said.
However, taking lessons from what’s happening in The Gambia, the association recommended a temporary ban on liquid drugs, he said.