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.

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

Share This:

Related Posts

Ex-KWASU lecturer commits suicide A former lecturer with the Kwara State University, Malete, Dr. Oluremi Osunlola, has reportedly committed suicide. Our correspondent in Ilorin, the Kwara State capital gathered on Friday that the late Osunlola was a Lecturer 1 in the Department of Crop Production, College of Agriculture of the in...
Nuts strengthens brain, preserves memory More and more studies are revealing that nuts are great for your health, with benefits ranging from better cardiovascular health to boosted memory and cognition. A new study has looked at the brainwaves triggered by nut consumption, and it found further evidence for their cognitive benefits. Rece...
Nasarawa varsity to admit only 13% of 30,000 applicants The management of Nasarawa State University, Keffi, said on Friday that it would not admit more than 4000 new students for the 2017/2018 academic session, even though 30,000 applied for admission. Mohammed Mainoma, the vice-chancellor of the university, made this known when the state house of ass...
The 26 Nigerian female migrants who died in Italy The funeral of the 26 Nigerian female migrants who died at the Mediterranean sea held on Friday in Naples, Italy. Italian prosecutors say they are investigating the deaths of women – most of them teenagers – whose bodies were recovered at sea on November 6. Investigators suspect that the women...
Profile of Nigerian entertainers turned politicians By Amina Isah, Abuja Many Nigerian celebrities are trying their hands at politics and actually succeeding. A lot of Nigerian entertainers are definitely going into the political field, some of these celebrities have used their charisma, good looks and personalities to get peoples’ support. ...
NYSC announces resumption date for new batch of corps member... The National Youth Service Corps, NYSC, has confirmed November 21 for the opening of orientation camps for prospective Batch B, Stream 1, corps members nationwide. This was announced on the Twitter handle of NYSC on Friday. Adenike Adeyemi, NYSC spokesperson, also confirmed the date to newsmen...
Missing journalist found dead in Anambra A Cameraman with the Anambra Broadcasting Service, Mr Ikechukwu Onubogu, has been found dead four days after he was declared missing by members of his family. Although the cause of his death remained sketchy, the News Agency of Nigeria gathered that the late Onubogu, who was at home with his wife...
Buratai: Soldiers pursued truck loaded with weapons into Kan... Tukur Buratai, chief of army staff, says soldiers pursued a truck loaded with weapons into the family home of Nnamdi Kanu, leader of the Indigenous People of Biafra (IPOB), in Abia. In September, several people were said to have been injured after soldiers and members of IPOB clashed in Kanu’s fa...
Delta police restricts vehicular movement ahead of Anambra p... The Delta command of the Nigeria police has ordered the restriction of vehicular movement between Delta and Anambra through the Niger Bridge, with effect from 12am on Friday. Zanna Ibrahim, the commissioner of police in the state, gave the order in a statement signed by Andrew Aniamaka, the comma...
Mugabe makes first public appearance after military takeover Zimbabwean President Robert Mugabe attended the graduation ceremony of Zimbabwe Open University in Harare on Friday morning. This is Mugabe’s first public appearance since the military seized control of the country. Background: The military had taken control of the country, insistin...
Anambra guber: Electorates should decide poll outcome –... The candidate of the United Progressives Party (UPP), Chief Osita Chidoka, has appealed to authorities to ensure the will of the electorate prevailed in tomorrow’s governorship election in Anambra State. He also appealed to members of the Indigenous People of Biafra (IPOB) and Movement for the Ac...
UCH establishes centre for elderly For people who cannot trust the care of their old parents above 60 in the hands of house-helps and distant relatives, the University College Hospital (UCH), Ibadan, will soon unveil the Kessington Adebutu Rehabilitation Centre, to serve as an old people’s home. Located within the geriatric depart...
FG to NERC: Allow consumers to buy meters The Federal Government has directed the Nigerian Electricity Regulatory Commission to reinstate the regulation that allows power consumers to purchase meters from approved vendors. NERC had in September last year directed the 11 electricity distribution companies operating in the country to forma...