NMMC hospitals to victims of snakebite: Sorry, no antivenin

Non-availability of anti-snake-venom (ASV) drugs at hospitals run by the Navi Mumbai Municipal Corporation (NMMC) has been giving snakebite victims a hard time.

Representation pic

People in Navi Mumbai are forced to go all the way to civic hospitals in Mumbai to get an ASV drug dose for snakebite treatment.

A snakebite victim is supposed to be administered antivenin as early as possible, as delays cause cascading damage to the patient’s health.

In the past one week, three persons bitten by poisonous snakes in Navi Mumbai had to be shifted to Mumbai hospitals. The patients were informed about the non-availability of ASV drugs at an NMMC-run hospital in Vashi where they had been first admitted.

Recuperating in Sion hospital, all three patients were said to be stable now.

Health dept flayed
Raising the issue in the Standing Committee meeting on Wednesday, members took the NMMC health department to task for failing to keep sufficient stock of ASV drugs in civic hospitals.

“One lawyer from Belapur was admitted to the civic hospital in Vashi after he was bitten by a poisonous snake a few days ago, but doctors at the hospital flatly told the lawyer that they did not have ASV drugs and, moreover, they did not even make an effort to arrange for the antivenin,” Standing Committee member M K Madhvi said. “So the lawyer was shifted to Sion hospital, where he is now recuperating. We have come across many cases of snakebite in which patients were asked to go to Mumbai hospitals for treatment.”

Madhvi said the deplorable situation could only be termed an outcome of negligence as the health department was allocated sufficient funds.
“How come the health department failed to keep enough stock of the ASV drug despite allocation of huge funds to the department? It is negligence on the part of health department officials,” Madhvi said.

Supply shortage
The health department said it was helpless as there was a shortage of the ASV drug in the market.

“We had invited tenders for the purchase of ASV drugs and three private companies had shown interest in supplying us the drugs. However, these companies have now expressed their inability to supply ASV drugs, reportedly because of a decline in production,” NMMC medical officer Dr Ramesh Nikam said. “We are trying our best to get the ASV drug from the Haffkine Institute for patients admitted to our hospitals, but even the institute is providing very low quantity of the drug.”

According to the health department, Navi Mumbai has seen 73 snakebite victims since April.

Taking note of the magnitude of the problem, Standing Committee chairman Sampat Shewale ordered the health department to ensure adequate stock of ASV drugs in 15 days.

“This is a very unfortunate situation, especially when we have allocated huge funds to the health department,” Shewale said. “I have ordered the health department to purchase enough quantity of ASV drugs in 15 days.”

Sources in the NMMC said the civic body would incur an expense of Rs 19.2 lakh for the purchase of 6,000 ASV drug vials.  

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