Senate probes ministry as Nigeria records 250 snake bite deaths

The Nigerian Senate is probing the Ministry of Health over the death of 250 people from snake bites in Borno, Adamawa, Taraba, Gombe and Plateau states.

The states fall in the country's snake belt.

The Senate has also directed the Health ministry to immediately procure sufficient anti-venom for the affected states.

Further, the Senate ordered the immediate establishment of local production of the anti-snake venom (ASV).

Get treatment

The Nigerian House issued the directives following a motion on the; “Alarming Increase in the rate of Deaths of Victims of Snake Bites due to Scarcity of Anti-Snake Venom,” sponsored by Sen Joshua Lidani (PDP-Gombe)

He noted that the deaths within three weeks were recorded because of lack of ASV.

“Within the past three weeks alone, 250 victims have died as a result of inability to get treatment.”

The mortality figures were obtained from the report presented by three snake treatment centres namely; the General Hospital, Kaltungo; Ali Mega Pharmacy, Gombe and Comprehensive Medical Centre, Zamko.

A huge crisis

The figures, the report explained, only captured those who died at the centres and that many more may have died at traditional healers’ houses and at their homes from the same cause.

Health workers at the snake treatment centres, described the situation as “a huge crisis that is both embarrassing and scary’’.

“We receive an average of 50 victims every day. Some arrive here in very critical conditions and we just have to watch them die because we are helpless,” Mr Abubakar Abdullahi Aliyu, the Managing Director of the Aliyu Mega Pharmacy, in Gombe, said.

He said more than 70 victims had died in the last three weeks following the lack of ASV to treat them, adding that many came from Adamawa, Taraba, Bauchi, Borno and Plateau States.

No drugs

The representative of Pankshin/Kanam/Kanke in Plateau, Mr Tim Golu, said his constituency was the most affected by the snakebite menace.

“For my people in Plateau, the paucity of the ASV is catastrophic. We have lost many people in the past few weeks. Right now, we have several cases in Kanke, my village.

"The Zamko health centre is usually their only hope, but there are no drugs there. It is a huge disaster,’’ he said.

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