Government school teachers and parents of girls, who fell sick after consuming the weekly iron and folic acid tablets supplied by the state health department, have demanded that the scheme be either withdrawn or the dose be administered only in the presence of doctors.
Teachers added that classes had been disrupted from Monday when the first batch of pills was given to students. Since then, the school staff has been busy organising first-aid and taking serious patients to hospitals.
“Many students have been complaining of stomachache and dizziness. We were in the school with the students till late evening on Monday. Three out of eight teachers in our school are taking care of the students. Normal classes have been disrupted over the last two days,” said Sanyogita Yadav, a teacher from Government High School, Sikandarpur. She added that some cases were handled by the school authorities by giving students lemonade and bananas.
Parents, meanwhile, were infuriated with the rising number of students falling sick, most of whom were girls. Many parents said that nurses or doctors should have been present while the pills were being given to students, at least during the first dose.
“When the authorities are aware of the side-effects of these pills, nurses should be provided in schools for handling emergencies. Besides, not all medicines suit everyone. It is the responsibility of the authorities as the lives of children are at risk,” said Ramesh Kumar, father of a student from Bhondsi who had to be admitted.
More than 40 students from the Government Girls’ Senior Secondary School, Bhondsi, reported sick after consuming the iron and folic acid pills.
Shekhar Raghav, the brother of a girl student from Ghamroj, raised similar concerns. “How can the school teachers be expected to give pills to children without having any medical background? Doctors should be present in schools to check if medicines are being given according to the required conditions. If there isn’t enough infrastructure, such risky schemes should not be introduced without proper preparedness,” Raghav said.
With nearly 100 cases being reported from the district, panic and anxiety spread among parents while teachers are also cautious. Jagram, headmaster of the government school in Sikandarpur, said that all necessary steps are being taken by them to administer the pills properly and control minor side-effects at the school level itself.
Meanwhile, officials of the district administration said authorities of the National Rural Health Mission have been informed about the situation. School health department officials added that consumption of iron and folic acid tablets commonly have side-effects.