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02.03.2007 General News

Korle Bu Hospital alarmed over Caustic Soda deaths

By : The Heritage

Caustic soda, the main raw material used by small scale local manufacturers in making soap is reported to be killing tens and hospitalizing scores of producers' children weekly.

The infants are reported to mistakenly gulp down the poisonous solution and as a result, the CEO of Korle Bu Teaching Hospital, Prof. Frimpong Boateng has expressed great concern over the rapidity of the accident.

He confirmed that caustic soda causes the death of many children in the country but the matter goes largely unreported.

According to him, the malady, called Corrosive Oesophageal disease, affects the gullet of humans and is increasing at an alarming rate which if not checked immediately would lead to many more deaths.

He recommended mass education on the harmful effects of the poisonous chemical.

He further explained that it usually affects children from poor homes, those who live in compound houses or single rooms with so many children and so many household items in the same room.

He explained that the soda, if dissolved in water looks like ordinary water.

It is obtained from the open market often in bottles but it is at times mistaken by thirsty children for ordinary water.

After drinking it, it burns in the mouth and the tongue as well as the gullet, making it difficult for the patient to eat, drink or swallow saliva and if immediate attention is not given- could kill the patient instantly.

He explained that a tube is usually passed through the mouth into the stomach of victims for about three to six months, adding that such a person can only be saved through colon by-pass operation.

The operation cost ranges between 20 million and 25 million cedis.

But Prof Boateng was not as worried with the operation cost as was the trouble victims go through on their way to recovery and to be able to swallow again; even after two major surgeries.

Not only that; the poor mother would have to be by the bedside for several months with the attendant loss of income and the increased health bills.

The Korle-Bu Teaching Hospital in Accra is the only facility performing the colon by-pass operation nationwide.

He appealed to soap and tie and dye manufacturers to be careful with the chemicals that they use and store them in places where they cannot be reached by children.

He said the chemicals should also not be put into ordinary bottles that make them look like water.

Source: The Heritage