Official faults Kemsa for importing ineffective snake anti-venom

Saturday, October 5th, 2019 00:00 |
Poisonous snake. Photo/Courtesy

The Kenya Medical Supplies Authority (Kemsa) has been faulted for allegedly importing ineffective snake anti-venom from India.

Kilifi Health Executive Dr Anisa Omar said the Bharat Anti-venom variety from India have proven ineffective in treating venom from African snakes. 

"These anti-venoms have proved to be life threatening to the residents of Kilifi county, who are prone to snake bites especially during the rainy seasons," she said. 

Omar said the county has been forced to partner with a Watamu snake farm, Bio-Ken,  to source anti-venom from South Africa which is more efficient. 

“Doctors in the county have had and still are facing challenges in treating snake bite patients, sometimes leading to loss of life,” she said. 

During a health summit, the official said the national government has developed proper guidelines on how to manage snake bites effectively, which allow the use of anti-venom only where it is necessary to control wastage.

Bio-Ken director Claire Taylor said one vial of anti-venom costs Sh12,000.

"While snake bites are curable, a large number of victims are unable to access effective treatment either due to prohibitive costs or because the drugs are inadequate," said Taylor.

Omar urged Kemsa to source for anti-venom for local snake varieties especially as Kilifi hospitals have reported an increase in the number of snake bites following heavy rains in parts of the county.

Bio-Ken has set up the James Ashes Anti-venom Trust to help reduce the number of unnecessary deaths and disability caused by snake bite by providing the correct anti-venom and information.

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