Kathmandu, July 3
With the start of monsoon season, cases of snakebites have increased across the nation. However, there is an acute shortage of anti-snake venom this time.
Cases of snakebites go up in June, July and August every year. The hospitals have already witnessed the increasing flow of the victims of the snakebites.
After the Commission for Investigation of Abuse of Authority (CIAA) directed to stop tender procedure to import the anti-snake venom , vaccine for snakebite was in short supply, Dr. G.D. Thakur, director of the Epidemiology and Disease Control Division under the Department of Health Services, said.
The CIAA asked the Supply and Management Division under the Health Ministry on 26 June to stop the tender process stating that it suspected financial irregularities in the tender bid.
According to Dr. Thakur, the EDCD had asked the division for vaccine procurement three months ago. However, the CIAA took control of the file at that time preventing all processes of procurement, he said.
Presently, the CIAA has instructed the division to follow alternative way to procure the anti snake venom.
It is a peak season of the snakebite. Most cases of snakebites occur in Kailali, Kanchanpur, Morang Jhapa, Saptari Udayapur, Rupandehi, Nawalparasi, Dang, Chitwan and Kapilvastu districts.
Cobra and Karat spread terror in these districts during the rainy season.
According to the record of EDCD, every year 100-200 people died of snakebite in Nepal. Among them, 90 per cent died before reaching health institutions. Many of the victims depend on shamans to treat the snakebite and meet untimely deaths. Only 10 per cent victims reach hospitals.
Last year, the division had procured the vaccine paying IRS 207 for each vile.
This year a tender that agreed to provide each vile of vaccine at IRS. 217 was accepted. However, in the tender the amount was mentioned in Nepali currency at about Rs. 400..
Due to the confusion about Indian Currency and Nepali Currency, a person had filed a case in the CIAA.
The CIAA took time to investigate into the complaint and the vaccine supply was being delayed, Dr. Thakur stated.
Last year, a total of 32,000 vile of anti snake venom were procured.
However, Katmandu is free from poisonous snakes. Medics said that no case of poisonous snake-bite was recorded in Katmandu. The climatic condition of the valley is not appropriate for the poisonous snakes like cobra, they said.
However, some argued that the change in climate could one day turn the valley into a suitable place for the poisonous snakes.
The treatment of snake bite is available in free of cost in Nepal.
As poor people fall prey to snake bite the government has provided free anti snake vaccine.
Medics advised not to sleep in the floor in the monsoon season to avoid snakebite and fill up the holes of houses.
Similarly, they urged to tie lightly just above the bite mark and visit health institutions as early as possible after they received a snake bite.