NIH doubles anti-venom stock

PESHAWAR (APP): National Institute of Health (NIH), one of the most prestigious institutions involved in multi-disciplinary public health-related activities, has increased its stock of anti-venom to tackle the growing threat of snakebite envenomation in the country during the monsoon season.
In a video advisory issued by NIH for the awareness of the public about the treatment of snake bites, NIH warns that in flood-hit areas and those receiving many rains, there are risks of an increase in incidents of snake bites.
“Snakebite is a significant, but often neglected health issue affecting millions of people in developing countries,” adds the video message.
World Health Organization (WHO) has declared snake bite a neglected tropical disease which is affecting around 30,000 people in Pakistan on an annual basis.
The main reason behind death due to snake bites is a lack of awareness among people who instead of forthwith rushing patients to the hospital, prefer the traditional way of treatment.
In the health advisory, NIH team members apprised people to tackle snake bites for proper treatment of victims.
Apart from the video message, NIH also prepared a pictorial display for educating the public about better treatment of snake bite victims.
“We are preparing polyvalent antivenom which is made by injecting horses with venom for the treatment of Big Four, the Indian cobra, common krait, Russell’s viper and the saw-scaled viper,” informs Amina Najam, Senior Scientific Officer Biological Production Division of National Institute of Health.
Talking to APP, Amina informed that NIH was producing 20000 vials of anti-venom per year but has now increased its capacity up to 60,000 vials.
We have also approached provincial governments for procurement of anti-venom from NIH to meet the need of treating snake bite victims, she told APP.
Amina said snake bite incidents are increasing in the wake of floods and excessive rains during monsoon, inundating large areas in both urban and rural settlements.
There is no proper data regarding the number of snake bites at the national level and the public health departments should maintain records and share with concerned departments for tackling this neglected tropical disease which is becoming a public health burden in the country.