Lack of anti snake venom in hospitals cause for concern

In the wake of increasing number of deaths occurring due to snake bites in recent days, there seems to be a serious need for the government to make anti snake venom medicines available in abundance in market.

The recent death of a child in Thekkate village in Kundapur taluk owing to snake bite, has raised the eyebrows of many and has brought into light the obstacles in availing treatment facilities on time. The child was unable to get proper treatment following lack of availability of anti snake venom in the private hospital that led to her death.

District Health Officer Dr Ramachandra Bairy told Deccan Herald that the government should take steps to provide sufficient anti snake venom medicines. The district health department has taken all precautionary measures to eliminate confusions among people. The drug is now made available in the taluk hospitals in Karkala and Kundapur and in Udupi district hospital. Prior to this, the drug was available in PHCs, he said.

PHCs were provided with two vials for emergency purpose. However, at present the availability of the drug in PHCs has been stopped following the shortage of supply. Currently, around 220 vials of anti snake venom is available in two taluk government hospitals and Udupi district hospital. Negotiations between the government and the drug companies to fix the drug price has resulted in not making the drugs available in the private hospitals.

He said there is another factor adding to the trouble. Karkala and Kundapur taluk hospitals do not have ventilator facilities. The facility is available only in the government hospitals in Ajjarkadu in Udupi. The patient who comes in search of the drug will be offered anti snake venom drug free of cost, but he has to avail other facilities like ventilator in private hospital.

The DHO said the cobra bite is very common in coastal and Malnad stretch. The forest area in Malnad and coastal stretch accommodates various breeds of snakes. The deaths are taking place owing to poisonous Cobra, Krait and viper bites. Dry grass in the area is also another problem, wherein the snakes come in search of cool area and hide in the ground. Children realise very late that they are bit by snakes as they ignore the snake bite thinking it as any other insect bites.

As many as five deaths were recorded in Udupi district in 2013. All these deaths occurred due to the improper management of time. 

Besides, the government hospitals should also be equipped with sophisticated facilities to treat the patients, especially, poor who come seeking treatment following snake bite, he added.

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