Snake anti-venom crisis raises concern

- POST REPORT, Kathmandu
Snake anti-venom crisis raises concern

Jul 22, 2014-

The government agency responsible for distribution of anti-snake venom serum (ASVS) in the country is reeling under an acute shortage of the life-saving antidote during a season when the number of snakebite victims increases drastically.

The Epidemiology and Disease Control Division (EDCD) of the Department of Health Services in Kathmandu currently has only around 300 vials of the ASVS while the country needs at least 30,000 to 40,000 vials of the serum each year. With such a small amount of anti-snake venom serum at its disposal, there are fears of sharp increase from snakebites and related fatalities, which tends to rise significantly during rainy season in mostly the Tarai region of the country.

Dr Baburam Marrasini, Director of EDCD, said that due to lack of adequate supply of the antidote, they have been delivering the ASVS in quantities that is far less than demanded by various districts in the country. He said that only last week they supplied some 800 vials of ASVS to various districts and regional drug stores so as to fend off the increasing demand for some days. According to EDCD, 300 vials of ASVS were dispatched to Biratnagar and Butwal respectively, while 200 vials were supplied to Nepalgunj.

Meanwhile, the EDCD has been providing anti-snake venom services in 26 districts through 50 outlets. EDCD further said that around 400 deaths have occurred in the country though snakebites between the year 2006 and 2012, while 10 million people in the country are said to be at serious risk of snakebite. Keeping this in view, the government has been providing Anti Snake Venom Serum (ASVS) for free since the year 2000.

Experts say, if the present crisis of the anti-venom serum continues, the number of deaths through snakebites might increase significantly this year. Every year around 150 people die of snakebites in the country while the demand for anti-venom vaccines is higher between mid-June and September-end. Doctors say that depending on the amount of poison in the patient’s body, up to 27 vials of anti-venom could be used in a single case of snakebite.

Published: 23-07-2014 08:53

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