RAJBIRAJ, Aug 9: Binod Kumar Sah, 13, of Madhepura VDC-7 in Saptari district was bitten by a snake and admitted on Tuesday to the emergency ward of Sagarmatha Zonal Hospital, Rajbiraj for treatment.
However, the zonal hospital could not provide appropriate treatment to Sah as it had run out of anti-venom a week ago. Sah was later referred to Dharan for treatment. Unfortunately, the BP Koirala Institute of Health Science (BPKIHS), the only hospital that provides treatment for the victims of snake-bite in Dharan, too has run out of anti-venom vaccines.
“It has been almost one week since we used the last anti-venom vial,” says Dr Gyanendra Malla, the emergency ward chief at the BPKIHS, adding, "We have been referring the snake-bite victims to either Itahari or Biratnagar in the recent days."
Koshi Zonal Hospital, Biratnagar was also grappling with the shortage of anti-venom vaccines until a few days ago. The zonal hospital received 100 vials of anti-venom vaccines only Wednesday. “Zonal and district hospitals have been facing the shortage of anti-venom vaccines for one month now,” says Bharat Sah, chief of Eastern Regional Medical Store, Biratnagar.
The prolonged shortage of anti-venom vials has cost many lives across the country. Two snakebite victims have died in Saptari in the past week alone.
Similarly, Shiva Narayan Mandal of Rampur, Jamuwa VDC-3, and Shova Devi Sada of Bakdhuwa VDC-5, have died of snakebite, according to the zonal hospital in Rajbiraj.
. "We have published a notice to inform the people about the shortage of anti-venom," says Lal Kishor Singh, Senior Assistant Health Worker at the hospital. "Despite that we get 5 to 7 victims of snakebite every day. We have no option but to refer them to elsewhere."
The shortage of anti-venom stems from the ban imposed by the Commission for Investigation of Abuse of Authority (CIAA) on procurement citing irregularities in the process.
Although the Department of Health Services provided 720 vials of anti-venom just two days ago to the regional medical store in Biratnagar, most of the district and zonal hospitals are yet to receive necessary vials.
“We´re yet to receive sufficient anti-venom,” says Shah. “In the eastern region, we need at least 2,000 vials of anti-venom just for the rainy season. If we don´t get another installment immediately, another bout of anti-venom shortage will hit the hospitals.”
According to Dr Jitendra Shrestha, zoonosis program chief at the DoHS, only 300 vials of anti-venom have been purchased now for all the five regional medial stores. “We will buy more anti-venom soon,” Dr Shrestha says. “I hope the anti-venom shortage will ease very soon.”
With inputs from Arjun Paudel in Kathmandu, Rohit Rai in Dharan and Ajit Tiwari in Biratnagar.