5,000 anti-venom vials arrive Nigeria

5,000 anti-venom vials arrive Nigeria

After one month of acute shortage of Anti-Snake Venom (ASV), resulting in massive snakebite deaths across Nigeria, 5,000 vials of the ASV have arrived the country.

The ASV drugs, which arrived at the weekend, include EchiTAB G for the treatment of bites from carpet vipers, and EchiTAB Plus for venom from carpet viper, Puff Adder and Black Cobra.

EchiTAB G is produced by Micropharm Ltd, United Kingdom, while EchiTAB Plus is produced at Instituto Clodomiro Picado, University of Costa Rica.

The last tranche of the drug, supplied in August, was used up in September, throwing the treatment centres into chaos as victims massed in, following a sharp rise in snakebites occasioned by the on-going harvest season.

But Nandul Durfa, Managing Director, EchiTAB Study Group (ESG), representatives of the two foreign outfits manufacturing the drug in Nigeria, told the News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) on Tuesday that the ASV crisis was over.

“We received 3,000 ASV vials from Costa Rica and 2,000 vials from the United Kingdom at the weekend; the acute shortage that culminated into massive deaths was unfortunate, but it is now over,’’ Mr. Durfa said.

Mr. Durfa, who had attributed the acute scarcity to “late placement of order by ESG”, said 10,000 additional ASV vials would soon be received to stabilise supply and guard against future ASV crisis.

He said the ASV was being shared to snake treatment centres with 700 vials already sent to Kaltungo General Hospital, Gombe, while Zamko Comprehensive Health Centre in Langtang, Plateau State, had received 500 vials.

More than 250 victims of snakebite died in the two centres within three weeks, at the peak of the acute shortage of the ASV last month.

According to Durfa, 500 vials have also been sent to St. Theresa Snake Treatment Centre in Makurdi, Benue State, while consignments to be sent to Taraba, Borno and Adamawa States were being packaged “based on respective demands’’.

He added that the ESG had also donated 50 and 30 vials to Kaltungo and Zamko centres respectively, for patients too poor to afford the little token charged by the centres to cover transport costs.

The medic explained that the ESG had had “very useful’’ discussions with the Federal Ministry of Health on measures to ensure the constant availability of ASV so as to minimise deaths from snakebites.

“We have agreed to pool resources together to order for bulk production; we believe this will make the product readily available and cheaper,” he said.

According to him, the ultimate target is to domesticate the production of the drug.

“In 2006, we submitted a proposal of N2 billion to facilitate local production of ASV which was approved by then President Olusegun Obasanjo, but nothing came out of it.

“Currently, we take the live snakes to Liverpool School of Tropical Hygiene in the UK, where the venom is removed and taken to the centres to produce the ASV.

“The two companies have agreed to transfer the ASV production technology to Nigeria; we should take full advantage of that kindness.

“Following the massive effect of the recent scarcity, we resumed fresh discussions with the government toward domesticating its production. We have also contacted stakeholders and philanthropists to collaborate on a Public-Private-Partnership arrangement to that,’’ he said.

Mr. Durfa challenged Nigerians to take the local production of ASV seriously because those killed by snakebites were the productive group – farmers, cattle grazers and miners – who were crucial to economic growth.

He cautioned Nigerians against procuring the drug from anywhere outside the snake treatment centres, saying that criminals had taken advantage of the paucity to sell fake ASV to desperate victims.

“It is very scary; criminals get empty bottles of ASV, inject rubbish into it and sell to victims.

“In some cases, they inject milk into the empty container and sell to unsuspecting victims, worsening their plight as they will be deceived into believing that they are receiving treatment while being destroyed by the festering venom,’’ he said.

Mr. Durfa said that ESG had centralised the distribution of the product to guide against such fakes

“It was to guard against such evil practices that the ESG established the treatment centres. We want victims to patronise only such approved centres to access genuine drugs so as to avoid complications and death,’’ he said.

He also cautioned snakebite victims against rushing to traditional healers.

“What the herbalists are doing is trial and error. Most victims bleed in the brain because the venom is vicious; traditional healers cannot tackle that because they only concentrate on healing the wound,” he explained.

The ESG boss commended President Muhammadu Buhari for assisting the group when he was chairman of the Petroleum Task Force (PTF), declaring that the ASV distributing outfit was one of the “few’’ surviving legacies of the PTF.

“The vehicle Buhari gave us more than 20 years ago is still one of our most dependable assets,’’ he said.

The figure of deaths, obtained from the centres, represented the number of confirmed deaths from three snake treatment centres – General Hospital, Kaltungo, Ali Mega Pharmacy, Gombe and Comprehensive Medical Centre, Zamko, Plateau State.

Meanwhile, Titus Dajel, Medical Superintendent, Zamko Comprehensive Health Centre, has expressed happiness at the arrival of the ASV.

“Yes, we have received the ASV from the EchiTAB group in Abuja. We are already dispensing to patients. It is a big relief for us”, he told NAN.

Mr. Dajel, however, called on government to partner with ESG to domesticate the production of the drug, saying that importing it was “dangerous” as supply could run out any moment leading to another round of crisis.

Website design in Abuja

follow us on twitter @aljazirahnewsng
Like us on Facebook @aljazirahnewsng

Share This:

Related Posts

Lassa fever: Nurses call for overhaul of nation’s health sys... Nurses under the auspices of University Graduates of Nursing Science Association (UGONSA), on Friday, called for the overhaul of the nation’s health system to enhance effective health care delivery. In reaction to the recent death of doctors and nurses due to Lassa fever in Ebonyi, the associatio...
Boko Haram attacks Adamawa town, ‘kills five’ Five people were feared killed Friday by suspected Boko Haram insurgents in an early morning attack in Kaya village of Madagali in Adamawa, residents and local officials have said. Kaya is one kilometer drive from Gulak, the administrative headquarters of Madagali. The attack came two days aft...
Politicians dividing Nigeria for selfish reasons — Amosun Ogun State Governor, Ibikunle Amosun, has accused a section of Nigerian politicians of causing disunity in the country for selfish reasons. Mr. Amosun advised the media in the country to focus more on things that unite the populace as the nation inches closer to the 2019 elections. The Ogun St...
Niger govt disburses N2.5m to 50 youths to set up fish pond ... The Niger State Government says it will disburse N2.5 million as starter packs to 50 graduates of the National Institute for Freshwater Fisheries Research, to establish their own businesses. Alhaji Haruna Duku, the State’s Commissioner for Fisheries and Livestock, disclosed this on Friday in an i...
Kaduna teachers call off strike The Nigeria Union of Teachers (NUT), Kaduna chapter, on Thursday, called off the indefinite strike it embarked upon on January 8 to protest against the sack of 21,780 public primary school teachers in the state. Chairman of the union Comrade Audi Amba stated this shortly after an emergency  Execu...
Abuja Masterplan: FCTA to host stakeholder conference By Jonathan Aderibole, Abuja The Federal Capital Territory (FCT) Administration has braced to address critical issues arising from the implementation and abuse of the FCT masterplan.  Consequently, a stakeholder conference on the theme of “Repositioning Abuja for the Development of a Sustainable ...
Adeola Akinremi: Buhari cannot run, time ran out on him This year is not looking good for President Muhammadu Buhari. The incurious president has spent half of January confronting what he had ignored—the herdsmen extremism. Allies of Buhari are increasingly confident that he would run again, but they don’t see why the president is too timid to declare...
EFCC recovers diverted IDPs relief materials in Gombe State The Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) recovered some items meant for Internally Displaced Persons (IDPs) which were allegedly diverted by the secretary of the Gombe State Emergency Management Agency (SEMA), Dr Danlami Arab Rukuje. Addressing newsmen yesterday at the commission’s off...
Nigeria to receive $2bn from AfDB by 2019 – Adesina The level of investments in Nigeria by the African Development Bank (AfDB) will grow to $8billion from the present $6 billion, the President of the Bank, Akinwumi Adesina has said. Speaking yesterday at the opening of the Nigeria Country Office in Abuja, Mr Adesina said the bank strongly supports...
Man docked for cheating The police on Wednesday arraigned Anthony Osuji in a Wuse Zone 2 Senior Magistrates’ Court over cheating. The defendant, 39, of Kado in Abuja was arraigned on a two-count charge of criminal breach of trust and cheating. The prosecutor, Adama Musa, told the court that the matter was reported by...
Nigerian banker gives birth inside plane en route New York A 41-year-old Nigerian banker identified as Toyin Ogundipe, aboard an Air France flight, was delivered of a baby boy mid-air about 35,000 feet above sea level and four hours away from the destination. The mother of two who lives in the UK  had gone into labour a week earlier than her delivery dat...
JAMB to institutions: End 2017 admissions next week The Joint Admissions and Matriculation Board has directed all tertiary institutions to end their 2017 admission by January 25. The Board’s Head of Media, Dr Fabian Benjamin said the board’s decision came at a meeting where all issues and ones bordering on the admission process were taken into con...
NYSC: We need more employers to request Corps members The National Youth Service Corps (NYSC) on Thursday, January 18, in Abuja urged employers in the private and public sector to send in more requests for the services of corps members. Mr. Bello Ballama, the NYSC FCT Coordinator said this at the swearing-in ceremony of the 2017 Batch ‘B’ Stream II ...