Establish Anti-Venom Factory to tackle snake bites – medical experts call on Fed Govt
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.
According to Dr Nandul Durfa, Managing Director, Echitep Study Ltd, “The treatment of snake bite is very expensive; it usually costs between N60,000 and N70,000 because the anti-venom is very costly; the least is N23,000 per one Ampoules and the minimum required is two Ampoules per patient.”
Durfa, who was a former Chief Medical Director (CMD), University of Abuja Teaching Hospital, told newsmen in Jos that the cost had proved too high, especially for the rural dwellers, who are mostly the victims.
The CMD said, government should take this suggestion seriously 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; this is why government must intervene so that the poor victim can get that assistance,” he said.
The medical expert said that countries like Sri-Lanka, Papua, New Guinea are producing their anti-venom locally and needed not to import as Nigeria is currently doing, to treat victims of snake bites.
Durfa said that an outcome of research overtime had confirmed that establishing an anti-venom outfit was the best way government and other stakeholders could minimize the number of deaths from snakebites.
He emphasized that, “If we have our own company here, we can be very specific about the type of snake for which the anti-venom will be produced.”
According to him, “we were told that France, which has been Nigeria’s major supplier of the drugs, has stopped producing it; by June next year, their last product, which is Anti-venom, will disappear from the market.”
Durfa disclosed that in 2006, former President, Olusegun Obasajo, approved N2 billion for the establishment of an 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 such as 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.” Dr. Durfa also reaffirmed that, there is an average of between 14 and 22 people being bitten on daily basis and between 420 to 600 people each month.
It is already on record that 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 2- 5 victims every day.
In the same vein, another speaker, Dr Sylvester Gaknung, Medical Director, Miko Memorial Clinic, Amper in Kanke Local Government, said, “President Muhammadu Buhari’s administration should urgently consider establishing the anti-venom factory to save the situation.”
According to him, in fact, there is the need for the federal, state and local governments to in the interim, provide funds for free treatment of victims considering the high cost of treatment of the venom.”
Daknung 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.
He said, “this is why we have so many deaths recorded on daily basis; this must be checkmated to safeguard our vibrant youths from being destroyed at their prime.”
The medical expert said 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.
Our correspondent gathered that, the duo suggested the use of booths and industrial hand gloves by the poor farmers to reduce the cases of the snake bite, more so that they (snakes) thrive more in hot temperate regions.