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Shortage of snake serum hits Rajasthan.

THE Vasundhara Raje government in Rajasthan has been caught napping as at least 91 persons have died of snake bite across the state during the past 45 days for want of anti- snake venom (ASV) injections in government hospitals across the state. But the same ASV injections were found being sold from medical shops outside the government's Mathura Das Mathur Hospital in Jodhpur. Exploiting the crisis, the shops were allegedly selling the injections at an exorbitant price of ` 1,000.

While the state's Health Minister Rajendra Rathore has promised action, people continue to suffer due to ASV shortage. Of the 33 districts in the state, 25 districts did not have a single ASV injection on Monday. Significantly, to treat a normal snake bite 10 injections are required; in the case of a cobra bite the number might reach up to 40.

The scam was unearthed following a complaint by the son of a patient -- Prema Ram (70), a villager from Barmer. An investigation by the MDM Hospital authorities and Drug Inspector on Sunday night exposed the nexus between certain hospital employees and the private medical shops.

Two contract employees of the hospital -- pharmacist Sanjay Singh, posted at the BPL counter for free medicines, and Rajesh Rao, a nursing employee -- were suspended on Monday, said Rathore. Action against few more employees too was expected.

ASV injections are supposed to be provided from the government hospitals free of cost under the ' Chief Minister's Free Medicine Scheme'. However, for the last few months, the company that provides the injections to the government's procurement agency has stopped supplying the medicine.

Sources pointed out that about four months back the government reduced the price of the ASV injections from ` 950 to ` 450 per injection. Consequently, the pharmaceutical company supplying to the state hospitals reportedly stopped manufacturing the injection.

Confirming the shortage, Dr Ajit Singh, additional superintendent of the Jaipur's Sawai Man Singh (SMS) Hospital, said that the ASV injection was on the list of free medicine scheme, but currently its supply was stopped.

Medicines are supplied to all the government hospitals by the Rajasthan Medical Service Corporation (RMSC), a state government body, through centralised procurement. The ASV injections are procured from M/ S Bharat Serums And Vaccines Limited, Singh said.

Around 120 injections were requisitioned from various districts to meet the demand of SMS Hospital in August. But it was not sufficient to deal with the increasing number of cases of snake bites. In SMS Hospital alone the numbers of snake bite cases in June, July and August were 22, 45 and 53, respectively. This month, till Sunday, 26 cases have been recorded by the hospital.

Talking about the shortage of ASV, minister Rathore said that he came to know about this development on Sunday. "Health department officials had not brought this fact to my knowledge so far," he claimed and assured to make necessary arrangements for procuring the injection.

The state medical department has been receiving demands for the injection from various district hospitals as during the monsoon season incidents of snake bites increase in the rural areas. By the end of July, the department received 25,000 injections, but it was just half of the total requirement.

The medical department has no comprehensive figure of the victims of snake bites in the state.

But government records say the numbers of such deaths during the past 45 days were as follows: Jaipur 3; Bhilwara 37; Dausa 5; Udaipur 3; Sikar 1; Banswara 5; Pali 13; Sirohi 2; Ajmer 4; Bharatpur 11; Alwar 6; and Kota 2.

In Barmer, seven victims are undergoing treatment while the number in Jaipur's SMS Hospital was three on Monday.


ASV injections were found being sold from shops outside the govt hospital in Jodhpur.

Of the 33 districts in the state, 25 districts did not have a single ASV injection The firm that provides injections to the govt's procurement agency has stopped supplying it Medical department has no accurate figure of the victims of snake bites in the state

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Publication:Mail Today (New Delhi, India)
Date:Sep 16, 2014
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