UAE | Health

Pesticide poisoning cause of Sharjah toddler’s death

Police confirmation comes after blood tests on sibling who is on road to recovery

  • By Aghaddir Ali Staff Reporter
  • Published: 21:20 September 10, 2012
  • Gulf News

  • Image Credit: Courtesy: Hesham Abdul Rahman
  • Habiba and Abdul Rahman in happier times. The children’s mother said Abdul Rahman asked for his sister as soon as he gained consciousness.

Sharjah: Police sources have confirmed the cause of death of a two-year-old child in Sharjah as chemical poisoning due to pesticides, Gulf News has learnt.

Habiba Rahman was rushed to hospital last week along with her brother Abdul Rahman with suspected food poisoning but doctors later ruled out food as the cause of their sickness after learning that the children could have been exposed to pesticides used in an adjacent flat.

The little girl died despite the best efforts of doctors at Al Qasimi Hospital in Sharjah. Her brother has remained in a critical condition but has begun showing signs of recovery.

Blood samples taken from Abdul Rahman have since confirmed that he is suffering the effects of chemical poisoning, Sharjah Police sources said.

A window close to the room where the children slept is understood to be close to the apartment where the pesticides were used.

Doctors tested Abdul Rahman after the family refused to allow Habiba’s body to be exhumed for running tests. The child had been buried before an autopsy could be carried out.

Meanwhile, Abdul Rahman, six, is no longer in a critical condition and could be discharged from hospital within a fortnight.

He is being kept under observation as he receives treatment to rule out any long-term damage to his kidneys.

Dr Khalid Khalfan Bin Sabet, specialist paediatric surgeon at Al Qasimi Hospital, told Gulf News: “He is out of danger, we have removed tubes that were helping him breathe and have woken him from a medically-induced coma. He has been given liquids and is responding well.”

The children’s mother, Shimaa Sadek a teacher, told Gulf News how Abdul Rahman had asked for his sister soon after gaining consciousness.

She said: “When he opened his eyes, he didn’t say anything. I took his hands and asked how he was feeling, he asked, ‘where is my sister, is she dead?’ I told him his sister was okay, that she was in the next room but he kept crying and asking for her. I had to leave the room as his blood pressure was rising and I couldn’t stop myself from getting upset.”

She added: “We prayed he would wake up and he has, thank God for that. Habiba was like a dream in my life, a beautiful dream in my life, we are grateful for her and all the help we have received.”

Shaikha Jameela Bint Mohammad Al Qasimi, Vice-President of Sharjah Family Supreme Council, visited Abdul Rahman in hospital yesterday.

Shaikha Jameela is also director general of the Sharjah City for Humanitarian Services (SCHS) where Abdul Rahman is a pupil.

Shaikha Jameela was joined by pupils from Abdul Rahman’s school who were eager to visit their classmate.

Dr Khalid Khalfan advised parents bringing children to hospital to be forthright when giving information to doctors, especially in cases where poisoning was suspected. He said: “They should have transparency when they pass information to doctors, often parents are afraid when police are there, but it won’t effect doctors but patient themselves if they don’t give correct information. “With the right information, we can treat as quickly as possible, I’m not speaking just about this case, but in general, as in poison cases, it is vital that we get the information so we can act fast.”

Comments (10)

  1. Added 16:40 September 11, 2012

    Please, please, please, I dont want to hear another such sad story again!! How many more times do we need to hear of these unfortunate circumstances that can very easily be avoided and in fact, SHOULD be avoided? Please higher authorities - step in and take corrective measures to avoid such pesticide cases. I liked sonia's idea from the comments. let the municipality enforce some approval system or even the landlord owner to get some approval system in place for any flat owners if and when they require pesticide done in their houses.

    NS, Abu Dhabi, United Arab Emirates

  2. Added 12:21 September 11, 2012

    The Advantages of Biological Pest Control Fight bugs naturally with biological controls. Biological control is a safe and natural approach to keeping pests at bay. It is an economical and effective technique in pest control and management in agriculture programs. The method uses natural pest enemies to eliminate harmful insects in order to reduce the risk of pesticide abuse and possible environmental chemical pollution. Lets us circulate this message to all and stay GREEN!

    Gaston Alfred Dias, Abu Dhabi, United Arab Emirates

  3. Added 11:36 September 11, 2012

    This incident is not the first time. It's high time that the authorities step in and implement something which will eradicate such accidents. In my opinion, authorities should ban all residents from applying any pesticides on their own. Instead, all those who want to use pesticides should submit some application to Municipality or so, who in turn should do this service directly or through approved companies. Till the time such rules are implemented, at least apartment owners can impose rules that no resident should apply any pesticide without prior approval from the landlord. And landlords should ensure that they use only approved pesticides, and also the neighbors are informed about it.

    Sonia, Dubia, United Arab Emirates

  4. Added 11:32 September 11, 2012

    Insha Allah, the baby will wait in the heaven to receive her parents and the boy Abdul Rahman will make a heavenly life in th e earth for his parents. With prayer..

    Sabith PV, Fujairah, United Arab Emirates

  5. Added 10:59 September 11, 2012

    There have been few cases reported, There are milliion people in this country. It will be difficult to educate them but not impossible. We can make strict rules against the pesticide companied not to handle such chemicals to lay person, in case if this pesticide job is beeing done by the pesticide companies, make it compulsory for them to obtain prior approval from authorities. this should include a notification at the entrance of every building and apartment, notifying the watchman. and again watchman of every building should be vigilant about this incidences. otherwise we will loose such smiling faces

    Ahmad, Bagalkot, India

  6. Added 10:27 September 11, 2012

    Its now the high time the people should start informing the neighbours whenever they schedule the pesticde. At least they can write on a piece of paper and place it near the floor / Lift. when you are scheduling this, give other also time for escape. May Allah give peace and patience to the family ..ameen.

    A T A, abu dhabi, United Arab Emirates

  7. Added 10:01 September 11, 2012

    Very sad to hear about the loss to the Family. May God give peace to the baby. I would also like to bring to notice the use of wax in many fruits to give a shine to them. Please use warm water to take of any wax from such Fruits / Peel Off the skin before we start to feed wax to our Kids. Request the authorities to please take this in to notice and remove this kind of stuff from our society.

    Amit, Dubai, United Arab Emirates

  8. Added 09:26 September 11, 2012

    Alhamdulillah, the child is recovering. As a father I am very happy and thankful for Allah for the child's recovery, but the neighbour who used the prohibited pesticide and the person who supplied it should be prosecuted and suitable action taken. He has caused a great loss to a family.

    Shafraz, Sharjah, United Arab Emirates

  9. Added 09:20 September 11, 2012

    All the parents can feel the pain, the kids are the most precious gift ever given to us. Allah may end grief and pain of the family.

    MO, Abu Dhabi, United Arab Emirates

  10. Added 09:09 September 11, 2012

    This has not happend for the first time in Sharjah. It is high time and the authorities should take tough initiatives to punish the culprits in this case. There must be strict guidelines for all real estate companies managing buildings to appoint a watchman who will permanently be available at rception to monitor the visitor and to put a notice in advance for such pesticides planned in a particular flat/floor so that neighbours can take necessary precautions.

    Faisal M. Seddiqi, Sharjah, United Arab Emirates

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