Recently the Northeast Development Commission (NEDC) made an uncommon donation of about 3000 vials (doses) of Snake Antivenom to a Snake Bite Treatment and Research Center at Kaltungo in Gombe State.
The donation, which ordinarily would have passed as one of the routines NEDC normally gives to healthcare facilities in the northeast region, was received with unusual ceremony and gratitude by the government and community leaders.
Dr Suleiman Mohammad, Principal Medical Officer at the Snake Bite Treatment and Research Center at Kaltungo, has described snake bite as a neglected killer disease that commonly affect the peasants.
It has been reported that “an average of 20,000 cases of snake bites are recorded in Nigeria every year.” Of this figure, at least 2,000 people die from snakebites annually and over 1,700 lose either their legs or arms to snake bites.
According to a report by Premium Times, Gombe tops the states of Nigeria with high number of snakes bites, followed by Plateau, Adamawa, Bauchi, Borno, Nasarawa, Enugu, Kogi, Kebbi, Oyo, Benue, and Taraba states.
It was as a result of this concern and in fulfilment of its core mandate as the chief intervention agency in the northeast region that the NEDC recently made a huge donation of 3000 vials of Snake Antivenom to the Snake Bite Treatment and Research Center, Kaltungo in Gombe. The aim of the donation was “to tackle the increasing menace of snakebite in the area.”
NEDC’s Managing Director, Mohammed Alkali, said the donation of the antivenoms was part of the Commission’s commitment to helping the people attain their healthcare needs.
The MD of NEDC had last year visited the Hospital in Kaltungo where he led in handing over about 1000 vials of Snake Antivenom for the treatment of snakebite victims which, the Commission learnt had been the main problem affecting the Community.
The NEDC recently made yet another donation of 2000 vials of snake Antivenom to the Hospital in what appeared to be one of the highest of such donations to the facility. The donated medications consisted of Echitab G and Echitab Plus Venoms, which are efficacious in the treatment of snake bites common to the localities.
According to Dr Suleiman Mohammed, the chief executive of the Snake Bite Treatment and Research Center, Kaltungo, “it cost about N40,000 to buy a vial of the Antivenom in the open market.”
He said to treat a patient suffering from a snake bite sometimes “requires up to two or three pints of the snake antivenom, and not every family in Nigeria can afford that.”
Dr Mohammed said the donations made by the NEDC have so far boosted the services of the hospital, as more patients turn up at the hospital on time and many lives are being saved.
“Now that people are aware that we have free antivenoms here, they tend to report cases of snake bites quickly and they get treatment in good time,” he said.
The medical personnel said many locals were reluctant in showing up at the hospital due to fear of the high cost of the anti-venom.
“Many would rather go for traditional treatments which in most cases are not very effective.
Happy Emir Reacts
The Mai of Kaltungo, Dr Sale Muhammadu to whom the NEDC management presented the 3000 vials of Snake AntiVenom expressed happiness on behalf of his people.
He commended the good work of the NEDC even as he assured the Commission of his Emirate’s readiness to support all its laudable programmes.
NEDC has also promised to sustain its support for the Snake Hospital and other health facilities across the northeast states in line with its core mandates.
The NEDC is the focal organisation charged with the responsibility to assess, coordinate, harmonise and report on all intervention programmes, and initiatives by the Federal Government or any of its Ministries, Departments and Agencies (MDAs), States; and other Development Partners and for the implementation of all programmes and initiatives for the North East states; Adamawa, Bauchi, Borno, Gombe, Taraba, Yobe, respectively.
The NEDC “among other things, is to receive and manage funds from allocation of the Federal Account and international donors for the settlement, rehabilitation and reconstruction of roads, houses and business premises of victims of insurgency as well as tackling the menace of poverty, illiteracy level, ecological problems and any other related environmental or developmental challenges in the North-East states”.