High cost of anti-snake venom is now driving victims of snake bites from public hospitals in order to seek herbal medicines in Adamawa state, investigations revealed.
Snakebite envenoming is a major public health problem among rural communities of the Nigerian savanna.
A family of one of the patients who pleaded anonymity said that ‘’staying in the hospital has brought forward to me, that the common man is facing the difficulty of his life.
‘’ For instance, my younger brother who is a victim of the snake bite had to be evacuated from the Specialist Hospital for traditional medicine due to the high cost of anti-snake venom which is N40,000 per dose.
‘’He was placed three times a day N120,000 until the venom was clear. If it is three days it cost N360,000.
‘’This is serious; the government of Governor Ahmadu Umaru Fintri needs to be considerate to purchase this drug for the benefit of the people or sell at a reasonable price,’’ he urges.
Also corroborating, a victim of snakebite who simply identified himself as Baba John said that the high cost of the anti-snake bite had forced him to resort to local traditional medicine.
‘’The drug is costly and unaffordable and that forced me to leave the hospital for traditional medicine and God’s willing I am cured of the snake bite.
‘’I am appealing to the governor to help and provide free drugs especially now that the economic bites,’’ so urges Baba John.
In the meantime, efforts to get officials of the state ministry of Health proved abortive as the Director Pharmaceutical Services was said to have traveled out of the state.
But while speaking to reporters, the information officer of Yola Specialist Hospital, Mr Izekiel Mathias had confirmed the high cost which he attributed to the coronavirus pandemic and non-rampant cases.
‘’Right from time, the drug is costly and now coupled with coronavirus pandemic which halted air travels, and we have very few incidences of snakebite here in the state, that’s why the drug is not readily available in our hospitals which informs its high cost.
‘’It’s not like in our neighboring Gombe and Jos where they have rampant cases of snake bites.
‘’But we are expecting special intervention by the state government in the area of provision anti-snake bite drugs.
‘’I am calling on the victims and their families to bear the high cost as health is wealth,” he said.
Investigation revealed that the use of plants for the treatment of snakebites is not novel in rural communities, though cases handled using antivenom plants rarely record victims succumbing to death.
‘’The burden of human suffering caused by snakebites has been greatly underestimated, ignored and neglected for far too long. Snakebites, common in rural areas of many tropical developing countries including Nigeria, mainly affect the youth or agricultural workers who lack a political voice that effectively represent their needs.
‘’It is evident that several thousand Nigerians fall victims of snakebites annually. These are mostly farmers, herdsmen, and their rural-dwelling families. Each bite, whether accompanied by envenoming, leads to loss of workdays.
‘’The high-risk groups are also the economically active population so that their prolonged or short-term incapacitation at periods which coincide with the most intense farming activities can only lead to reduced agricultural production and low economic performance,’’ so observed Abdulhamid Dahiru Bomo an agriculturalist.