“Anytime you combine medication and supplements the potential exists for adverse effects,” said Health Minister Dr Leslie Ramsammy yesterday when he responded to questions related to the use of senna pod (a laxative) and Lomotil (anti-diarrhoeal tablets).”
The Minister made this disclosure when he held a press conference at the Health Ministry’s Brickdam head office yesterday.
Minister Ramsammy’s comments came in wake of the death of five-year-old Afiena and three-year-old Aliyah Ramdeen of G127, Good Intent Squatting area who died within a day of each other after being fed doses of senna pod and subsequently tablets believed to be Lomotil.
The children’s mother, Bibi Rafzia Grovesnor who fed the children with the medications, has since been taken into police custody pending post mortem examinations slated to be conducted tomorrow.
On Thursday last, Afiena a second year pupil of the Sister’s Nursery School was pronounced dead at the West Demerara Regional Hospital some time after 03:00 hours. Aliyah, who was also rushed to the same hospital, was treated and transported by ambulance to the Georgetown Public Hospital.
In an interview with this newspaper, Troy Ramdeen recounted the hours before his daughters’ death and hospitalisation on Wednesday.
He said that he became aware that is wife had given senna pod to his daughters when he returned from work at around 15:00 hours.
According to him, Grovesnor became worried when the children’s bowel movements brought on by the laxative dose did not ease as was expected.
As a result she purchased tablets to stop the persistent bowel movements.
However, by 20:00 hours Wednesday both children began vomiting and neither was able to recover from their fate.
Aliyah succumbed on Friday at the GPHC where she was a patient.
According to the Minister, Lomotil and senna pod are medications that are made available to anyone over the counter. However the Minister noted that it is not advisable for persons to combine the two medications.
“Anytime you are using any kind of medication like a laxative and an anti-laxative it is not advisable,” said the Minister.
He emphasised that any combination of medication and supplements has the potential of adverse effects. “I am not quite sure that there has been scientific evidence to show that they form a deadly combination but certainly it is not advised because the potential exists.”
The Health Minister said that while it is common in Guyana to use senna pod mainly for the purpose of de-worming children, advice should still be sought from the local area health centre or hospital.
“The fact is these children should be a part of a clinic and so we should be working closely with our primary health care providers.
We (the Ministry of Health) have made it almost obligatory for children to be part of a clinic and in this case primary health care at the kind of level is available in every community so it would advise people to talk with them,” the Minister urged.
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