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2023-04-17 at 16:56 #400404Nat QuinnKeymaster
The Minister of Health, Dr Joe Phaahla, has said that SA’s snake antivenom shortage is being monitored, but snake experts recently battled to find any after a man was bitten by a Cape cobra in Noordhoek in the Western Cape.
THE QUESTION IS, HOW IS SA’S FIVE-YEAR SNAKE ANTIVENOM DEPLETED?
The question everyone is asking, including Michele Clarke MP – DA Shadow Minister of Health, is how is the country’s five-year snake-antivenom supply DEPLETED?
“The antivenom shortage did not happen overnight. Why did the Department and the National Health Laboratory Service (NHLS) not flag the declining stock before it became a crisis and take appropriate steps to avert it?”
WHY WAS THIS NOT FLAGGED BEFORE IT BECAME A CRISIS?
Clarke furthermore said it is unacceptable that the country’s five-year supply has been depleted to the extent that doctors and veterinarians have to struggle to save their patients in the event of a snake bite.
“The DA will submit written parliamentary questions to the Minister to determine what has been done to address the National Health Laboratory Service’s (NHLS) shortage and which health facilities and practitioners have been supplied with antivenom.
“The NHLS efforts to lay the blame on load shedding and “difficulty in sourcing the material” shows the Department’s chronic and systemic failure to manage and maintain basic health care services, as well as their inability to long-term planning and identifying problems.”
WHAT STEPS WERE TAKEN TO TRY AN AVERT THE CRISIS?
Meanwhile, snake catchers have raised the alarm at the increased risk they face while attempting to safely remove venomous snakes from residential areas, as South Africa faces a severe antivenom shortage.
African Snakebite Institute CEO Johan Marais said low stocks showed little sign of increasing.
ONLY A FEW HUNDRED ANTIVENOM VIALS ARE BEING RELEASED INTO CIRCULATION
He added that, at the moment, a few hundred antivenom vials were being released into circulation each month, but these did not go far in the face of the demand.
South Africa’s antivenom is produced by SA Vaccine Producers, which is part of the NHLS.
The NHLS maintained that there were doses available and more being manufactured.
A HUMAN COULD NEED AS MANY AS 12 DOSES TO NEUTRALISE THE VENOM
Marais said not only was there a severe backlog of orders placed by hospitals and veterinary clinics, but several vials of antivenom were needed to treat just one snake bite.
He added a dog might need between two and four vials of antivenom, but depending on the snake bite, a human could need as many as 12 doses to neutralise the venom.
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