The Federal Government needs a whopping N7 billion to establish a factory for the production of anti-snake venom for victims of snake bites across the country, according to Dr. Nandul Durfa.
Durfa, who is the Managing Director, Echitab Study Limited, made the disclosure on Monday in an interview with the News Agency of Nigeria in Pankshin, Plateau State.
He decried the current cost of the anti-snake venom and the hurdles the government has to scale to get the drugs for snake bite victims.
Durfa, who was the pioneer Chief Medical Director, University of Abuja Teaching Hospital, said that the white anti-snake venom sourced from Britain costs between N35,000 and N37,000 depending on the foreign exchange rate at the time of importation.
“If we continue to import the drugs from overseas, we have to struggle with the cost as well as not getting them at the very time we need them.
“But if we have our own factory, we can always produce the drugs and make them available to our people at a cheaper price, ” he explained.
Therefore, he said, “There is need for the government to have a rethink on the plight of victims of snake bites around the middle belt, North East and North West, who spend huge amounts on treatments, given the prohibitive cost of the imported drugs.
“We hope that government will be willing to sponsor the production of anti-snake venom like some other countries do. If that is done, we can get it cheaper and always available. ”
The Echitab MD further stated that as a nation, we need to be more pragmatic and committed towards establishing our own factory to produce the drugs and save the lives of our citizens.
He added, “If we can start with snake farms, Sheep or Horse Farms, build the factory, set up clean production areas, then we can conveniently commence production of the drugs.”
Durfa explained that the production of the drugs was time consuming such that “you can’t rush into producing the drugs as you do for Panadol or other drugs, because we have to wait for nature.”
“But if we have the factory here in Nigeria, we can design when and where to get the drugs for our suffering victims and even export the anti-snake venom, to earn foreign exchange for the country,” he stated.
Durfa noted that at this material time of harvest, the number of victims of snake bites is on the increase as more people get bitten as they go to their farms.
“More people are taking to farming, and it’s not mechanised farming, so many people are being exposed to snake bites. We can only advise people to be more careful whenever they are in their farms, and when bitten, they should ensure that they see a doctor immediately for treatment.
“This is because the venom remains in their bodies and they will either die or get maimed, since the venom attacks the lymph, which sometimes has to be cut off, depending on the extent of damage’’, he said.