Sindh hospitals face acute shortage of anti-snake venom

RATODERO: Acute shortage of anti-snake venom at Sindh hospitals has created severe problems for treatment of snake bitten people.

National Institute of Health, Islamabad, is only institute where these injections are manufactured and according to sources, they have refused to supply ASV till end of August. Health & finance departments do not allocate separate budget either for treatment of snake bite or for anti-rabbi cases in the province and hospitals are forced to procure these vaccines from the open market out of their regular medicine budget.

Well informed sources at the NIH told PPI that after the 18th constitutional amendment NIH only accepts orders which are accompanied by the demand drafts otherwise they have stopped supply of these essential life saving drugs to all the provinces of Pakistan.

Ironically demand drafts are forbidden under the law of the provinces as District Accounts Officers (DAO passes only bills submitted to them but they do not release cash without submission of bills which is said to be serious audit objection. There is also no doubt that DAOs raise unnecessary objections when bills are submitted to them only to grab money from the concerned government departments because they act more like an audit office instead of custodians of budget allocations of the respective government departments which has increased corruption in these offices.

The Chandka Medical College Hospital Larkana authorities have recently sent an SOS to the Director, NIH, Islamabad requesting them to supply 1000 vials of injection ASV due to manifold rise in snake bitten cases. The CMCH further informed them that monthly consumption of this 1350bed capacity Teaching hospital is approximately 600 vials as the Hospital receive patients from more than 12 districts of upper Sindh and none of the Hospitals of these district inject even first doze of ASV due to which patients arrive in critical condition. Repeat dozes after investigation are increased which too consume more vials than usual.

Copies of this letter have also been sent besides others to Health Secretary & Director General Health Services, Sindh, Hyderabad. The DGHSS has further been requested to direct all the DHOs in Sindh to refer such snake bite cases only which are given 1st doze of Injection ASV at the respective Basic Health Units, Taluka Hospitals etc.

Perennial season has already started and the snakes which remain hidden in the earth come out of their hideouts and start leaving for safe places and during this process they come across the people and bite those who remain unaware of them.

One such affected poor peasant Gulab Junejo admitted in Medical Unit-II of the CMCH told PPI that he was coming out of his field after leaving water into the land to sown paddy seedlings when he was bitten by the hidden snake. He was immediately shifted to Naundero Hospital where they had no injection and asked for getting treatment at Chandka Hospital without loss of any time. After his arrival here he was given two injections and then he left for home.

After expiry of about 24 hours he again felt like going unconscious. He was again rushed to the emergency where doctors admitted him in this department. Patients and their attendants have demanded of the government to allocate separate budget for procurement of drugs for treatment of snake & dog bite cases on urgent basis.