Hundreds of angry parents yesterday staged a protest outside a kindergarten in Gansu province that gave children a prescription drug without consent.
It is the latest nursery school on the mainland found to have given pupils medicine without their parents' knowledge. The government last week ordered inspections at every kindergarten, primary and middle school in the country to check the scale of the problem.
Some of the nursery schools are alleged to have given the drugs to pupils to ensure high attendance rates, since absent pupils don't pay fees.
About 280 children at the Litian kindergarten in the Qilihe district of Lanzhou were given the antiviral ribavirin last October, Xinhua reported. The nursery school's head said a child had contracted a form of foot and mouth disease and the kindergarten wanted to ensure no other children fell ill, the report said.
The school's head, Nie Aiqin, said the kindergarten bought 50 boxes of the drug and the children were given the treatment twice, each time over a three-day period.
Parents at the school said their children had complained of diarrhoea, sweating, skin rashes and leg pains and feared they were side-effects of taking the drug, Xinhua said. Doctors, who declined to be named, told the South China Morning Post the symptoms could be side-effects of taking the treatment.
The parents are demanding an investigation into what medicine their children were given and how many times drugs were administered.
Calls made to the kindergarten and to Nie went unanswered. Wei Lihong, a deputy government head in the district, said an investigation was under way and any wrongdoing would be punished.
So far, some 10 kindergartens in Shaanxi , Jilin and Hubei provinces are alleged to have given children a different antiviral drug without parents' consent, sometimes over a period of several years, to protect them against flu.