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Grandmother, 70, dies of snake bite as hospitals run out of vital anti-venom

 The granny was rushed to a private hospital in Mwatate town but there was no anti-venom to treat her.

An elderly woman in Taita-Taveta County bitten by a snake on her way from the latrine died a long agonising death on Wednesday night.

Leah Malagho, 70, joined the sad statistics of victims of the ongoing doctors strike after she was bitten by a poisonous snake locally known as “nguluku” at Mwatunge village along the Mwatate-Taveta road.

She was rushed to a private hospital in Mwatate town but there was no anti-venom to treat her.

“We later rushed her to Voi County Referral Hospital where night guards told us that there were no health workers to deal with the situation,” said Charles Cherera, the her cousin. 

Relatives made frantic efforts to rush Ms Malangho to yet another medical facility, St Joseph’s Shelter of Hope in the outskirts of Voi town, where again they were informed that there was no anti-venom.

Medical personnel then put Magho on oxygen and some drugs for the night.

She barely made it through the night, and died the following day.

“She could have been alive today were it not for the health workers strike,” said her inconsolable cousin.

But the families woes did not end with their relative’s demise. They still have to look for Sh32,000 to clear the hospital bill before the facility can release her body for burial.

“As a family we have so far raised Sh19,000 but the management of the hospital has told us that they will only release the body once we clear the remaining balance. We are appealing for help from friends and well-wishers to clear the balance,” he said.

The hospital’s management could not, however, be reached for comment.

This is not the first time a resident fell victim to the deadly reptiles in the area.

The serpents have been know to slither into houses and latrines where they strike without warning.

According to the residents, stray poisonous snakes are a common sight in the area’s sisal farms.

Still, residents are no longer sure what, between the serpents and the raging doctor’s strike-terrifies them more.

They said the death of Malangho brings to eight the number of people who have so far died unattended in public health facilities in the past one month.

Last week, the strike robbed a middle aged woman-Bahati Tabu-of her five new born babies at Bahati village in Taveta Sub County. According to Tabu, earlier visits to the clinic had revealed that she was carrying quintuplets.

Then labour pains set in.

“I was first taken to Taveta Sub County Hospital but all the health workers were on strike. My family and well-wishers decided to take me to across the border to Tanzania where I gave birth to five children,” said the distraught woman.

The hospital in Tanzania had no incubators for the babies who were all born underweight.

All of them died.

Desperate, the county administration has agreed with the management of two private hospitals to handle emergency cases only.

The hospitals include St Joseph’s Shelter of Hope and River Jordan Hospital in Voi town.

County Chief Officer for health Services John Logedi said he was not aware of the snake bite incident.

“The incident has not been reported to my office yet. Have you asked them (her relatives) whether they had taken the patient to St Joseph’s Shelter of Hope?” he said

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