Suspicious drug to be administered to Zimbabwe school children

SOME parents have expressed concerns about a drug, Praziquantel (Biltriucide) set to be administered to school children this week, saying there has not been enough sensitisation about its side effects.


The drug, used for the treatment of bilharzia and intestinal worms, is said to have been condemned in other countries but will be used to treat an outbreak of bilharzia and intestinal worms in the country.

The deputy Minister of Health and Child Care Dr Paul Chimedza said his ministry received a donation of 11,5 million praziquantel tablets for the mass drug administration (MDA) around the country.

The ministry also received 5,5 million tablets of Albendazole enough to reach over 4,7 million children in 63 rural districts and two cities.

The MDA programme, which will run from October 28 to November 2, will be launched tomorrow at Tsungubvi primary school in Mazowe.

“The mass treatments are carried out at health facilities, designated schools, and other points of community convergence during the week long campaign,” said Chimedza.

“We also recognise the support in the provision of the much need pre-MDA meal from various organisations to reduce occurrence of side effects to the drugs.”

According to the internet drug index, RxList, before one takes praziquantel, he should inform a doctor if has kidney disease, heart disease, liver disease, or a history of seizures or epilepsy.

“Do not give this medication to a child younger than 4 years old,” it says. “Praziquantel should be taken with a meal. Do not crush or chew the praziquantel tablet. Swallow the pill whole. Take this medication with a full glass (8 ounces) of water.”

Wikipedia also says praziquantel “is an anthelmintic effective against flatworms and it is not licensed for use in humans in the UK.”

It is however available as a veterinary drug.

The World Health Organisation (WHO) warns on its website, “inclusion of very young children” in mass treatment campaigns could prove disruptive and unsafe as there is currently no appropriate pediatric formulation of praziquantel.”

It adds pre-school children should be treated within childhealth services where their weight is monitored, they are immunised, dewormed and given micronutrient supplements.

That is not likely to be the cases at most of the schools where the drugs will be administered.

Parents said the ministry had not explained to them the possible side effects and they feared that some children suffering from heart or liver diseases, may be given the drug resulting in serious complications.

Last week, some schools sent notices to parents informing them to make sure that their children come to school on a full tummy. They asked the children to bring additional food to eat just before they were given the drug.

“We were just told us to sign the notices but they did not inform us about the possible effects of the drug,” said one parent who stays in Mt Pleasant Heights in Harare.

“What if my child has a heart or liver problem and we are not aware of that?”

Hazel Moyo of Harare’s Marlborough East suburb said that she was not aware of the programme and would not want her five-year-old son to take part in the exercise.

She claimed that in 2009, her sister lost her baby after she volunteered to have her immunised without full knowledge of the side effects of the drugs used.

Epidemiology and disease control (EDC) director, Dr Portia Manangazira said the both drugs could cause immune as well as cognitive behaviour.

“Children are encouraged to take food before the drug is administered to them and they should desist from taking part in activities that might induce fatigue,” she said.

She said children many also develop a rash or vomit.

A nationwide prevalence survey conducted in 2010 indicated that bilharzia and intestinal worms were a widespread public health concern affecting 57 of the country’s 63 districts.

20 Responses to Suspicious drug to be administered to Zimbabwe school children

  1. baba taku October 27, 2013 at 12:12 pm #

    the ministry of health should not use our children as guinea pigs as a parent i say no to, the forced administration of this drug.parents should be given a chance to accept wheather their children can be given this drug or not.

  2. Munya Dimairo October 27, 2013 at 12:29 pm #

    Thank you for this story which I have read with a lot of interest. It should be noted that drug development and thorough testing of drugs is conducted from pre-clinical phase to phase III before approving its use in routine practice. The aims of these stages is to understand the efficacy, effectiveness and safety in humans. Although safety is one parameter which is often monitored during clinical trials, studies rarely have enough power to definitively answer the safety question unless the drug is a real killer (dangerous or extremely dangerous). Thus, it is logical to be suspicious of the potential side effects of any new drug. In reality, all drugs cause side effects in humans, but what is important is whether potential benefits overweigh potential side effects. Post-marketing surveillance is always done after approval of a drug in medical practice to definitively understand the long term safety profile of the drug. There are example of drugs which were approved and later withdrawn due to new worrying post surveillance information.

    However, having said this, it is worrying that the (medical) journalist of this story chose to cite Wikipedia as its source for such an important issue which can cause unnecessary anxiety to parents and might have serious health implications to the nation. For instance, wikipedia is not peer reviewed and therefore not reliable. In this case, it suggest that the drug is not used in humans which is not true and utter nonsense. If you use the latest systematic reviews through the CoCHRANE COLLABORATION library ( and search the term “praziquantel” you will find that the evidence is clear and this fear mongering on safety is unfounded so far (

    I’m extremely disappointed with the way this story has been reported and I would urge the journalist and their editors to check the facts before dissemination of information.

    best regards

    Munya Dimairo (

  3. tony October 27, 2013 at 7:18 pm #

    I’m happy this mda is happening in Zim. I wish it had happened during my school days. Worms are endemic in Zim and they almost destroyed my life. This is great news. Believe you me thebenefits far outweigh the side effects, if any. The drug is safe.

  4. ashley mungate October 27, 2013 at 8:40 pm #

    l think this thing will help us children and l just ask the parents to just say YES for their children to have this treatment and for us children to do what this treatment needs us to do and maybe one of this days we are all going to thank our government for this.THANK YOU FOR THIS TREATMENT

  5. poor reporting October 27, 2013 at 9:24 pm #

    This is pro Tsvangirai and anti Mugabe reporting at its best. Surely a lot more study should have been done before this fear mongering. Standard and your peers please take advantage of the truce declared by Jonathan Moyo and move out of this perennial opposition politics mode.

    Just look at the anxiety you have caused by your screaming headlines.

    Pasi nemi

  6. nya October 28, 2013 at 1:08 am #

    i am very disappointed by this poorly researched article whose sole aim is to cause anxiety among the public. medical information should be obtained from reputable sources and definately not wikipedia. this is a very good move by our government to improve the wellbeing of children and parents should be encouraged to co-operate and not frightened into denying their children better health. it is a well known fact that all drugs have side effects so please stop making a fuss about these drugs which are relatively safe drugs

    The Standard, please improve on the quality of your articles. this particular one was very bad

  7. Wilberforce Majaji October 28, 2013 at 5:25 am #

    Ma drugs anopihwa kitsi ndiwo akupihwa vanhu mu Zimbabwe. Nxa.

    Praziquantel (Biltricide) is an anthelmintic effective against flatworms. Praziquantel is not licensed for use in humans in the UK; it is, however, available as a veterinary anthelmintic, and is available for use in humans on a named-patient basis.

  8. The Truth October 28, 2013 at 1:28 pm #

    Rainflo Technology (Pvt) Ltd Irrigation water reticulation engineers,Consultancy, designs ,boreholes, RAINGUN SPRINKLERS !!overhead irrigation, drip irrigation, pump experts- installation, repairs, trolleys (portable), pivots, pipeline survey and installation, garden irrigation, booster pumps,maintenance,surface irrigation, tanks and tank stands.Thinking Long term & Reducing Costs . 0715415931

  9. Neza October 29, 2013 at 3:20 pm #

    the issue about the safety of these drugs can not be ignored. there are tests that need to be carried out first before a school teacher just dishes out these tablets to pupils.
    Donations should not force us to jump procedures. Medical personnel should be the one rolling out this programme not just mere school teachers.

  10. tonderayi October 29, 2013 at 7:54 pm #

    Its a pity that Africa and indeed Zimbabwe can still accept to be used to be a dumping ground for medicines that are not allowed by some countries. We as a country can not be so desperate that we can take even poison on our children simply because it has been donated.

    So much has been donated to our country and indeed other african countries but after a closer look by those who care, the results speak for themselves we have been used and it seems we are still being used as a dumping ground for everything including trial medicines.

    I wish the Minister of health took his time in examining this drug, and also to explain it to the nation why a drug unacceptable in some countries is donated to Zimbabwe by those countries who don’t use it. Let the Minister not forget that we Africans are being eliminated in many different ways and given the outlook of Zimbabwe in world political arena, surely some of these things are not to be taken for granted. This program must be stopped until enough home work is done and adequate information provided to individual parents, also that a pre- immunization exercise is done to check on the status of the children.

    Lets be worry about some donations, some have brought eternal complications to our people.

    • ndumba November 7, 2013 at 6:41 am #

      This is a shameful report. Government should force this newspaper to apologize and correct this misrepresentation of facts. This was an important national program and judging from the paranoia this report has generated, many children were deprived of an important opportunity. Such matters should never be politicized. Praziquantel is the standard, recommended, number one treatment of bilhazia in the world. 99% of treatment guidelines worldwide mention it as the treatment of choice. It has side effects like all the drugs. Even paracetamol can damage the liver. Praziquantel is even safe to give to pregnant women according to latest evidence.

  11. bango October 29, 2013 at 10:24 pm #

    stop this exercise with immediate effect before it wipes out our children, please.

  12. Xcalibur October 29, 2013 at 11:52 pm #

    Frankly speaking, I hate this country and its constitution. We seem to know what we are doing but in actuality we don’t. Tell me how a very sane gvt cld accept medication that has been rejected by other African countries and which has probably not been used in the western countries. I don’t accept that my child should receive this mysterious drug, No!

    Why is our gvt so paranoid, pathetic and unfocused, all these policies and implementations hv a huge bearing on me an us the ordinary citizens, we are suffering because of this nonsensical gvt that is always dishing shit.

    And what’s this abt reporting to police when u need a SIM replacement, chimbondiudza wo kuti chii ichocho, SIM card shuwa.

    Dai gvt yachinja iyi.

  13. parent October 30, 2013 at 2:18 am #

    I have a child who has been given the drug and is reacting tonight. handina kurara naye. no to compusary programmes like these. parents need to consent first. am disappointed

  14. Conny October 31, 2013 at 4:42 pm #

    Thank you for such an insightful article my friend. You are an informed, investigative journalist!

  15. muzimba November 1, 2013 at 11:53 am #

    this article was written with a view 2 undermine the ministry of health! Every drug is thoroughly researched b4 it is deemed safe 4 human use. Having said that my real worry is wetha this drug is being administered in europe n america. Ther is a worrying trend whereby certain healthcare programmes a widely promoted in africa whilst back in the west its not promoted. Take the issue of circumcission, its hugely touted as helping to reduce hiv infection n cervical cancer in women BUT i’ve never came across n western media commenting let alone advertising circumcission. Is there somethin goin on?

  16. chef November 3, 2013 at 9:54 am #

    Poor reporting at its best .yo sources a not reliable.

  17. chaks November 3, 2013 at 10:36 am #

    Sometime last year my mother who was 86 yrs then was prescribed this drug. Within three days she no longer showed any signs of having bilharzia. I took her back to her doc where it was confirmed that she was now free of the disease. She never developed any side effects.

  18. taipei November 3, 2013 at 12:01 pm #

    let’s not waste time arguing whether the report is pro Tsvangirayi as some are suggesting let those who feel is good for their children go for to those who feel betray like me to my children NO so the gvmnt must not make compulsory. I don’t trust this ministry just yesterday it was calling for contraceptive to our dear girl children from the age of 10 just imagine. Eradicate the causes not to want to concentrate on the symptoms everyday. Instead of working on the causes you want a quick fix which will cause a major problems tomorrow remember these ministers their children are not part of the exercise saka who cares here

  19. tawanda November 7, 2013 at 6:22 am #

    I am sorry u hv bn mislead on this matter by reckless reporters. Your children are going to miss an important opportunity. About SIM cards, I haven’t been asked to produce a police report for SIM replacement at least by econet. What I know is that it’s extremely difficult to get a SIM card in most western countries, including South Africa. I had to negotiate to use a fake address to get one in SA. I stayed in Japan for 2months with no SIM card because it was impossible for me to get one.

AMH logo

© 2021 The Zimind. All Rights reserved.

DMMA logo