Antivenom crunch in Udayapur health facilities hits snakebite patients

GAIGHAT, UDAYAPUR: Health facilities in Udayapur have been reeling under the shortage of snake venom antiserum for the past two months.

The lack of antivenom has been creating difficulties for Katari hospital and Snakebite Treatment Centre run by Nepal Army, to deal with an increasing number of snakebite patients.

Local resident Ganesh Baral claimed that half a dozen snakebite patients of Katari area have died for want of timely treatment in the past two months alone.

The two health institutions are receiving two to four snakebite patients on a daily basis, but they are forced to refer them elsewhere due to the lack of antivenom, according to hospital authorities.

In some cases, the referrals may cost the life of patients in midway, said Chief of Katari hospital, Dr Gaurab Sah.

A hospital needs at least 40 vials of antivenom in stock besides a ventilator and intensive care unit for snakebite patients, Dr Sah said.

On one hand snakebite incidents go unchecked, especially, in Tarai region during monsoon, while on the other, the health facilities have been reported to have shortage of  antivenom worsening the situation.

There should be at least 50 phials of the antivenom in stock whereas the health centre has only 20 phials at present, said Major Upendra Regmi, at the treatment centre run by Taraghari-based Shardul Battalion, Katari.

Of the snakebite patients in over one hundred in number received by the treatment centre in the past four months alone, 13 have returned home after treatment while rest of them were referred to elsewhere in shortage of antivenom, Major Regmi said.