Medical experts decry alarming snake bite cases… task FG on anti-venom firm


With snake bites getting more common in Plateau State, some medical experts have called on the Federal Government to establish an anti-venom factory to ease the treatment and lessen the fatality rate of victims.

In the last few weeks there have been several cases of snake bites in Plateau State.

The treatment is said to be very expensive.

Dr. Nandul Durfa said: “The treatment of snake bite is very expensive and usually costs between N60,000 and N70,000 because the anti-venom is very costly.

“The least pack is N23,000 per one and the minimum required is two.”

Durfa, the Chief Medical Director of Miko Memorial Clinic, Amper in Kanke Local Government Area of Plateau State, told the News Agency of Nigeria in Kanke on Tuesday that the cost had proved too costly, “especially for the rural areas”.

He said: “The government should seriously consider the need for a local anti-venom producing outfit because of how dangerous the snakes on the Plateau are.

“The carpet viper, black cobra, black mamba and puss adder are particularly dangerous.

“Their venom kills the victims if there is no quick medical attention and this is why government must intervene so that the poor victim will be able to get that assistance.”

Speaking in a similar vein, the Managing Director of Echitep Study Limited, Dr. Sylvester KGaknung, said an outcome of research overtime had confirmed that establishing the anti-venom outfit was the best way government and other stakeholders could minimise the number of deaths from snakebites.

KGaknung said Nigeria must emulate countries like Sri Lanka, Papua New Guinea and other countries that had established their anti-venom outfits.

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He said: “If we have our producing factory here, we can be very specific about the type of snake for which the anti-venom will be produced.

“We can know what quantity of venom to produce for which type of snake, rather than seeking a general purchase and end up with varieties we may not need.”

The duo particularly noted that the victims were mostly poor farmers without funds to treat themselves, which had often forced them into resorting to traditional medicines that hardly help.

“This is why we have so many deaths recorded on daily basis,” Durfa told NAN.

According to him: “We were told that France, which has been Nigeria’s major supply of the drugs, has stopped producing it.

“By June next year, the anti-venom will disappear from the market.”

Durfa, former CMD of the University of Abuja Teaching Hospital, disclosed that in 2006, former President Olusegun Obasajo approved N2 billion for the establishment of the anti-venom factory, but regretted that nothing had been heard of the project since then.

He warned of imminent danger “unless the Federal Government reviews or upgrades the cost earlier approved to facilitate the establishment of the factory or increase the importation from alternative sources from Wales in United Kingdom and Costa-Rica in Central America.

“But everything considered, the local production is the only solution to our snake bite challenges.

“We have to start before it is too late as the number of people being bitten on daily basis is on the rise.

“We have a range of between 60 to 90 people in a month.

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“Four hospitals – Comprehensive Health Centre, Zamko, Langtang North; Wuyep Specialist Hospital, Mabodi, Langtang South; Miko Memorial Clinic, Amper, Kanke; and General Hospital, Shendam – record an average of between two to five victims every day.

“There is the need for the federal, state and local governments to consider providing funds for free treatment of victims considering the high cost of treatment of the venom.”

The duo suggested the use of boots and industrial hand gloves by farmers to reduce the risks of snake bite.

According to the medics, the snakes are reptiles that had found the Plateau south and central regions conducive for habitation because their feeds – rats, cockroaches, frogs and termites – are available there.

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