Shortage of antivenom in Baringo leave victims crying for medical aid

Vivian Chelang’a receiving treatment at Marigat sub-county hospital on August 24, 2018 after she was bitten by a snake at home in Loruk, Baringo County. [Kipsang Joseph/Standard]
Snake bite victims in parts of the county are at risk of dying, getting paralysed or developing other health complications due to lack of antivenom.

Residents complained that both public and private health facilities did not have medicine for snake bites.

The situation is complicated by the fact that victims have to walk long distances to get to the few health facilities that have the antivenom. 

The rough terrain has not made matters any better.

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One of the victims, Vivian Chelang’a, a Standard Five pupil at Moi Nonil Primary School in Kapsebeyua in Loruk, had to be taken to the Marigat sub-county hospital in Baringo South, 80 kilometres away, on a motorcycle.

Her mother, Joyce Chelang’a, said she was bitten around 5.30pm while playing with other children.

The child was first taken to the local health centre at Kampi Samaki, but there was no antivenom.

She said she took her daughter to a private hospital, where she was given antibiotics and referred to the sub-county hospital at 9.40am. 

"The first health facility I took her to is 40 kilometres away. Sadly, after struggling to get there due to the poor state of the road, my daughter was not treated because there was no antivenom," said Ms Chelang’a.

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Ibrahim Hassan, the nursing officer in charge of the Marigat hospital, said one of the challenges in efforts to prevent deaths from snake bites was the failure of victims to seek treatment in good time.

"The girl was bitten by carpet viper, whose poison interferes with the body cells and blood circulation.

"Snake bites may also cause paralysis if not attended too quickly. This is why we advise victims to seek treatment as soon as possible," he said.

He added that the hospital received at least five snake bite victims every week. "Those attacked by venomous snakes must be treated within 30 minutes, failing which the bite can cause death."

Another snake bite victim, Elias Cheboi, from Kabare village in Baringo North, was said to have died before he could get to hospital. His uncle, Samuel Ronguno, said it took them five hours to get to the Kabartonjo sub-county hospital, but it was too late for the boy.

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However, the health executive, Mary Panga, insisted that the county government had stocked public hospitals, especially those that have reported many cases, with antivenom.

"We have even provided fridges and other facilities to store drugs in remote areas. We have provided solar panels to areas that have no electricity," she said.

She added that the county would hire at least 50 nurses on contract in the 2018/19 budget to boost services.

Baringo NorthMarigat sub-county hospitalBaringo CountySnake biteantivenom