A KCSE candidate at Kaputir Mixed Secondary School in Turkana South lost his life on Saturday after allegedly drinking an alcohol-based hand sanitizer.
Five other students who consumed the same product alongside the deceased are reported to have lost their sight, K24 TV reported. The affected learners are aged between 16 and 17 years.
Alcohol-based hand sanitizers became popular in Kenya following the outbreak of the COVID-19 pandemic early last year.
One of the students who became visually impaired regretted that his “stupidity” could shatter his dream of becoming a medical doctor.
Another student said he was lucky to be alive as the substance he drank was diluted with water, hence reducing its concentration.
“I drank from a cup which had a mixture of the hand sanitizer and water. I am, however, feeling pain in the throat and stomach,” he said.
Some of the learners are undergoing treatment at the school clinic while others were taken to a local hospital for specialized medical care.
Investigations into the incident are underway even as parents accuse the school management of negligence.
“We are demanding the principal resigns, and the board of governors sent packing over the negligence,” a parent said.
The incident comes weeks after Education Cabinet Secretary George Magoha banned the use of alcohol-based sanitizers in all schools around the country following a fire incident.
“I want to tell teachers that they must not allow small-bottle sanitizers into schools. If any child has portable sanitizer, it should be taken and kept and given when the child is leaving school,” said Magoha.
“We have already seen that a fire was started using a sanitizer in one of the schools.”