In the last three weeks, two hundred and fifty victims of snake bite have died in Plateau and Gombe States, following the scarcity of snake anti-venom drugs in the country.
Reports say this figure is the number of confirmed deaths from three snake treatment centres – General Hospital, Kaltungo, Ali Mega Pharmacy, Gombe and Comprehensive Medical Centre, Zamko, Plateau State.
A correspondent of the News Agency of Nigeria (NAN), who visited the three medical outfits, met other victims in critical situations, with some of them left on bare floors as the doctors said they were helpless without the anti-venom.
“We receive an average of 50 victims every day. Some arrive here in very critical conditions and we just have to watch them die because we are helpless,” Abubakar Abdullahi Aliyu, Managing Director, Aliyu Mega Pharmacy, told NAN in Gombe.
He said that more than 70 victims had died in the last three weeks following the lack of anti-venom to treat them, adding that some came from Adamawa, Taraba, Bauchi, Borno and Plateau States.
“An average of six deaths are recorded daily. If you go to the snake treatment centre at the Kaltungo General Hospital, you will pity the victims; the lucky ones among them get supportive treatment, while many are left to fate since the drugs are not available.
“Between August and October, we received 750 victims. We were given 700 vials of the anti-venom on August 31, but we exhausted them before October. Many people are just dying. It is a major crisis,” he stated.
Aliyu said that the only available drug – Indian anti-venom – was not as effective in the treatment of the bites from carpet vipers, the commonest poisonous snakes in the country.
“We have tried the Indian anti-venom, but it does not elicit much response. Sometimes, we give six vials and more to a patient, but the effect will be minimal. If we had Echitab drugs, one dose is enough to cure a patient,” he said.
The pharmacist urged the Federal Government to promptly step in to assist Echitab Study Group, the outfit coordinating the supply and distribution of the Echitab drugs, so as to make them available.