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THE UNNECESSARY TRAGEDY OF DEATH FROM SNAKE BITES IN KENYA

A victim of a snake bite might have only one hour to get treated

A victim of a snake bite might have only one hour to get treated

Pamel Masiga was laid to rest in Budubusi village, Bunyala West, in Kenya’s Western Province at the weekend. The cause of her death was an untreated snake bite.

It was not that Pamel Masiga had not tried to get treatment after being bitten, she had gone to her local hospital but it had no anti-venom serum in stock, so she died. Unfortunately Ms Masiga’s story is not uncommon in Kenya.

SNAKE ATTACK NEAR KAKAMEGA

The Kenya Forum was told this story at the weekend.

Just over a week ago, at about 2pm, a girl was walking home along a path near her village some 20 kilometers from Kakamega when she felt a slight pinch in her lower left leg but she carried on home.

Later that afternoon the leg became more and more painful and began to swell up. Her mother took the girl on a Boda Boda the approximately 10 kilometers to a dispensary in Vihiga where she was treated with an injection to reduce the pain but was not treated for the snake bite, which went undiagnosed.

Mother and daughter returned home, again on a Boda Boda but during the evening the swelling of the girl’s leg increased, as did the pain she was suffering.

NO ANTI-VENOM SERUM AT DISPENSARY

The next morning the pair headed back to the Vihiga dispensary where finally the snake bite was properly diagnosed. It could not be treated however because the dispensary was all out of the necessary serum.

The by now delirious girl and her frantic mother then managed to get on another Boda Boda to cover the five kilometers to Mukuku Hospital where fortunately and eventually the requisite injection was given and the girl survived, fully recovering after a few days rest.

The cost of the two injections came to over 7,000 Shillings, a great deal of money to a poor woman from Budubusi but what could she do? Not pay and let her daughter die?

LOCAL MP VILIFIES MINISTRY OF HEALTH

Speaking at Pamel Masiga’s funeral local MP Ababu Namwamba said it was a terrible shame that someone should die from being bitten by a snake in Kenya for the want of medicine. He castigated the Ministry of Health for failing to equip hospitals with the necessary drugs.

Ababu Namwamba was quite right. Most deaths resulting from snake bite in Kenya go unreported. Often we have heard of dispensaries and hospitals running out of supplies with which to treat people who have been bitten.

NO TIME TO WASTE

Depending on the type of snake that has inflicted a bite, the person bitten may have as little as an hour (if for example the snake was a cobra or a mamba) in which to get treated if his or her life is to be saved.

Deaths from snake bites may go largely unreported but that it should happen in Kenya in 2013 is a national disgrace nonetheless, says the Kenya Forum. Those bitten have no time to waste and likewise the Ministry of Health should waste no time in taking immediate action to remedy this problem.

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