Anti-venom serum scarcity at UHCs causing deaths

Most of the venomous snake-bite patients are dying by getting no treatment at the proper time in many of the Health Complexes of Upazila levels of greater Rajshahi districts due to absence of supply of Anti-venom serum (injection).  However, the serum is available only in Rajshahi Medical College Hospital and some at Natore sadar hospital.  

It is learnt, among nine Upazila Health complexes of Rajshahi, only two contain the Anti-venom while the process was underway to supply anti-venom to rest seven of health complexes, informed sources of Civil Surgeon office in Rajshahi.  However, physicians of the health complexes opined, the anti-venom should have supplied to all health complexes before starting of the rainy season. Now, the winter season is approaching and the snake-menace decreases during the winter. They further said, the death rate of snake-bite patients may have decreased substantially if the anti-venom had been supplied in due time. 

According to a source of Natore Sadar Hospital, during the current month only 280 vials of anti-venom were supplied at the hospital while 60 anti-venoms were supplied to Singra upazila and 40 each vial of anti-venoms were supplied to rest of the upazilas of the district.

Meanwhile, a source from Naogaon informed, there is no supply of anti-venom in any health complex of the district.

Civil Surgeon Office sources of Cghapainawabganj district informed, physicians of the district got training on treatment of snake-bite patients but there is no supply of anti-venom in any health complex of the district. 

According to sources of Rajshahi Medical College Hospital, a total of 463 snake-bit patients took treatment at RMCH from 2019 to September-2010. Of those, 238 patients were cured and 40 died in 2019 and till October-15 this year, 225 patients were cured after treatment and 12 died. On-duty doctors at the hospital opined, if the dead patients were brought to the hospital in due time, they might be treated and cured but those snake-bite patients waste their time by taking treatment to the quacks or to the rural practitioners, as a result, they die from the poisonous action of venom before reaching or just after reaching to the hospital. 

Doctors further opined, the menace of snake increased during the Bangla month of Ashar to the end of Ashwin and a large number of snake-bit patients died at the upazila level health complexes due to absence of supply of anti-venom serum. They informed, most of the snake-bite patients are from Naogaon and Natore district while in Rajshahi district most of the snake-bite patients are from Durgapur, Bagmara, Tanore and Godagari upazilas.  

Dr. Partha Moni Bhattacharya of the Department of Medicine of RMCH informed the movement of snakes at the rural areas has been increased due to an increase of water in rivers, ponds and water bodies. Most people are bit by snakes at their houses or during fishing in rivers or ponds. People of the villages should move carefully during this season, specially at night, he suggested.

Dr. Bhattacharya further mentioned, in Rajshahi region, 90 per cent of patients are bitten by non-venomous snakes while only 10 per cent of patients are bitten by venomous snakes. Most of the snake bit patients are dying because of taking their first treatment to local quacks or Ojhas and thus they waste their time and while they are taken to the hospital, it is often late to give them treatment. Moreover, most of the rural patients are at first taken to the local health complexes and whenever they came to learn that there is no supply of anti-venom there, they again run towards the district hospitals or to RMCH which waste their time and they die on the way. 

According to sources, recently Satya Sarker, a student of class four of Bagmara upazila died of snake bite. Afer being bitten, Satya was treated to the local quacks but when his condition deteriorated, he was rushed to RMCH where he died ultimately. 

Hossain Ali(40) and Asha (32) of Gomastapur under Chapainawabganj were also killed due to snake bite. At first they were treated to rural practitioners but when their condition deteriorated, they were rushet to Rajshahi but they died soon after their admission at the hospital. 

Dr. Saiful Ferdous, Deputy Director of RMCH informed, the number of snake-bit patients increased during the rainy season. Most of the patients are admitted from Naogaon and Natore districts. It is possible to treat the patients bitten by venomous snakes if they are taken to the hospital in due time. He further said, there is sufficient stock of anti-venoms in the hospital. 

Dr. Enamul Haque, Civil Surgeon of Rajshahi informed, demand notes for supplying anti-venom injections at the upazila health complexes has been sent to Dhaka. Those will be supplied in due time. Now, anti-venoms are available in Bagha and Charghat upazila Health complexes. However, when asked the delay in supply of anti-venoms in upazilas, he remained silent.