Nation short on anti-venom serum
KATHMANDU, AUG 11 -
The Epidemiology and Disease Control Division (EDCD) of the Department of Health Services has run out of the anti-snake venom serum (ASVS).
The body responsible for the distribution of the shot used to treat patients of snakebite, 3,000 vials of which has been sent to six cities, is reeling under an acute shortage of ASVS, multiple sources at the EDCD confirmed.
The Logistics Management Division (LMD) bought 3,000 vials of the drug on July 27 through emergency procurement after its initial plan to procure the ASVS was stopped by the Commission for Investigation of Abuse of Authority. Complaints were lodged with the CIAA citing ‘financial irregularities’ while the probe committee had asked the LMD to ‘improve’ on cost estimation and make an emergency procurement.
The annual demand for the anti-venom fluid is 30,000 vials in the country. With only 3,000 at disposal, many say more medicine may arrive only when cases of snakebite begin to decline in the second week of August. Snakebites are rife in the rainy season.
The 3,000 vials were sent to Eastern Regional Medical Store, Biratnagar; Army Camp, Itahari; Janakpur Zonal Hospital; Central Regional Medical Store, Hetauda; Butwal Hospital and Army Camp, Siraha.
Dr Naresh Pratap KC, director at the LMD, said around 4,000 vials are expected to arrive within a week. The government makes the ASVS available for health facilities free of cost.
The EDCD has been providing anti-venom services in 26 districts through around 50 outlets. About 10 million people are said to be at risk of snakebite. Of the 8,666 snakebites referred to health institutions between 2006 and 2010, 309 resulted in death. Though no figures are available for the fiscal year 2011/12 and early 2012/13, informed sources believe there has been a significant rise in the deaths owing to the shortage of the anti-venom injection in the past six months.
EDCD director out of duty
EDCD Director Dr GD Thakur is on an ‘unsanctioned’ foreign trip while the country is in the midst of a diarrhoea-cum-dysentery epidemic. Sources confirmed that Thakur has gone to Geneva for a ‘meeting’. However, none of his immediate seniors whom the Post contacted was informed of this impromptu visit. Dr Mingmar Sherpa, director general at the Department of Health Services, said he got a text from Thakur on Monday night saying that he is on leave. “I am not aware of his foreign trip. He has secured ‘personal leave’,” said Dr Sherpa. Dr Padam Bahadur Chand, spokesman for the Ministry of Health and Population, expressed ignorance of the supposed visit. Thakur is said to arrive on August 12.
Posted on: 2012-08-11 08:42