He made the clarification following recent reports of a shortage of the anti-snake venom across the country leading to up to 250 deaths from snake bites in the last three weeks in Plateau and Gombe states.
The figure reportedly represents confirmed deaths from three snake treatment centres— General Hospital, Kaltungo; Ali Mega Pharmacy, Gombe, and Comprehensive Medical Centre, Zamko, Plateau State.
So why are people dying if the anti-snake bite venom is available?
- According to Director of Media at the Health Ministry, Mrs. Boade Akinola, “The States in questions, have refused to comply with the new procedure of request, hence their inability to access the product from the Ministry.”
- In the last four months, up to five states have made requests for the anti-snake venom and received it, with the last being in September 2017.
One anticipated problem: The current stock of the anti-snake venom are from the 2016 procurement, however the minister said that the “2017 procurement may have some hitches because the funding was mistakenly transferred to the National Primary Healthcare Development Agency (NPHCDA).”
States need to get involved as well: Prof. Adewole said snake bite prevalent states need to invest in the procurement of anti-snake venom for their people as the FG cannot continue to procure and distribute free to states indefinitely as being currently practiced.
Whither anti-snake venom factory?: For a fee years now, the FG has been talking about having a factory for the local production of anti-snake venom in the country in order to drive down cost. Currently a vial of the venom is sold between N30, 000 and N65,000, making it unaffordable for many. Professionals say local production could bring cost down to as low as N5, 000.
The health minister reiterated again that, the FG is “working on Public Private Partnership arrangement for local production of anti-snake bite venom which will make the product available, affordable and accessible.”
Hopefully, this is concluded soon.