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Wednesday, April 17 2024
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Bengaluru

Antivenom Shortage in Karnataka Amid Rise in Snake Bite Cases

Snake
Photo Credit : News Karnataka

Bengaluru: Reported cases of snake bites and deaths in Karnataka have seen a drastic jump over the past couple of years.

Snakebite cases reported to the Integrated Health Information Platform (IHIP) nearly doubled to 6,587 cases last year, from 950 cases in 2021 to 3,439 cases in 2022. Moreover, there were 19 deaths in 2023 compared to 0 in 2021.

Though this spike could be attributed to health staff being encouraged to notify snake bite cases, these numbers, however, do not present a complete picture of the burden of snake bites. Cases are grossly under-reported in official data, thus skewing anti-snake venom (ASV) requirements in health establishments across the state.

On February 19, the state government recognized this knowledge gap and ordered that all cases of snake bites and fatalities be reported on the IHIP. By the next year, this will increase reported numbers, making it easier to track actual incidence, particularly during the monsoon months when snake bites are most common.

The health department will use this information to determine the precise frequency of snake bites in various districts, according to Health Minister Dinesh Gundu Rao, who told DH that ASV supplies will then be distributed to district hospitals, taluks, and primary health centers (PHCs). “Training health workers at the local levels to administer ASV will be our focus once we get this data,” he explained.

Anti-snake venom stocks Currently,

There are just 14,000 ASV vials in the 27 operational warehouses of the Karnataka State Medical Supplies Corporation Ltd (KSMSCL), far short of what would be needed to supply the entire state. KSMSCL officials reassured that “stocks are enough” in spite of this, saying that local hospitals and health clinics were responsible for restocking their supplies.

“We are requesting bids for the procurement of 57,000 vials of ASV, enough to supply nearly 3,000 hospitals and PHCs that are affiliated with us throughout the state. The requirements that each hospital uploads on the e-AUSHADHI application determine how much is sent to them, according to KSMSCL MD Chidananda S. Vatare.

When the tendering process will end and the vials—which range in price from Rs 500 to Rs 900—will be acquired is unknown.
Experts pointed out that there are other issues that need to be resolved in addition to the PHC level’s training of healthcare workers and the availability of high-quality ASV stocks, particularly in rural areas.
The majority of bite victims need at least 20 injections, and additional care may be needed depending on the severity of envenomation. As a result, costs can reach several thousand rupees.
In addition to advocating for universal education about snake bites, Dr. Nagaraj, medical director of a Hoskote hospital who has been treating patients for more than 20 years, has also pushed for universal access to and affordability of ASV at all levels.

“More pharmaceutical companies need to be encouraged by the government to engage in ASV research and development because the cost of each vial is high and there are insufficient stocks.” In a similar vein, it needs the assistance of snake rescuers in order to lower cases and give them incentives,” he said.

Snake rescuer Vattam Adithya, who is based in Ballari, is advocating for the government to improve the state’s local clinics and hospitals’ infrastructure so that victims won’t have to travel far for care. “Victims need to be admitted within an hour; any delays will reduce chances of complete recovery.”

Former wildlife warden and wildlife activist Sharath Babu is also optimistic that the government will increase the compensation given to victims from Rs 1 lakh to Rs 10 lakh.

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