Busia residents fear for their lives following shortage of anti-venom in hospitals

Residents have raised a red flag over what they term an acute shortage of anti-venom drugs.

They say they face a greater risk of death from venomous bites or stings especially during the hot and dry season when snake bite cases are likely to increase.

This comes a few days after a 12-year-old boy died after he was bitten by a snake.

Efforts by his parents to get treatment at the Nangina Mission Hospital in Samia were futile because the hospital did not have any anti-venom.

The boy, Victor Zawadi, was bitten as he fetched water from a shallow well at their Madende home in Matayos sub-county.

His father, Columbanus Maliga, said they rushed him to the hospital in Funyula but the anti-venom medicine was missing.

The boy died as they were making arrangements to take him to another hospital.

A medical officer at the hospital who asked not to be named said the drug was not available at the time the boy arrived there.

Important drug

"There are very many snakes in Busia County, especially during this hot and dry season. We are at risk because in the event of a bite, chances are that lives will be lost because this very important drug is missing in most of the hospitals," George Wabwire, a resident said.

But the county's Health and Sanitation Executive, Maurice Siminyu, refuted the claims, saying the ministry had procured the medicine from the Kenya Medical Supplies Agency.

"The truth of the matter is that our sub-county hospitals, which have refrigerators, were supplied with the medicine. We are still investigating the case of the boy who died recently following a snake bite," Dr Siminyu said.

He said his department would establish why the boy was not transferred to an alternative facility where the anti-venom is available.

Siminyu said the drug is available at Busia County Referral Hospital, Matayos Health Centre, Sio Port, Port Victoria, Alupe and Khunyangu sub-county hospitals, Nambale Health Center and Kocholia Hospital in Teso North.