In a dispatch sent to all 63 provinces and cities yesterday, the ministry also asked local health authorities to take samples of suspicious oriental medicine for testing and suspend those that operate without a license, Nguyen Hoang Son, deputy head of the ministry’s Traditional Medical and Pharmaceutical Department, told Tuoi Tre yesterday.
The ministry requested that all local authorities issue a ban on peddling oriental medicines at markets or festival areas, Son said.
The ministry urged concerned agencies to identify and inspect oriental medical centers that had provided children with medicines that caused lead poisoning, Son said.
According Hanoi-based Bach Mai Hospital and the Central Pediatrics Hospital, most of the children hospitalized for treatment of lead poisoning have been fed a kind of powder medicine in orange or reddish brown color.
The medicine, which is packed in paper or plastic bags with no printed information, is administered to children with thrush by simply applying it to the lining of mouth or tongue, the department said.
The tests of the medicine samples showed that they contained high contents of lead, the department said.
The remaining part of the powder medicine that has been used to treat thrush for a baby in Hanoi (Photo: VnExpress)
Yesterday the Hanoi Health Department reported that it has suspended three traders of the medicine in Phuc Tho, Hoai Duc and Phu Xuyen Districts.
Bach Mai Hospital reported that since the beginning of this year, it has given treatment to more than 130 children who suffered health problems caused by lead poisoning. Of these children, 30 have been admitted in critical conditions.
Children with acute lead poisoning usually develop such symptoms as convulsion, coma, and anemia, doctors said.
“Children who are infected with lead at low contents and for a short time can recover after proper treatment. But if they get the infection at high levels and for a long time, the treatment will be more difficult and even after all the lead has been removed from their body, they may suffer after-effects that have harmful impacts on their reproductive health,” Son said.
Children who are heavily lead-poisoned face a high risk of suffering both physical and mental development problems, he warned.