Ten (10) Die From Receiving Ineffective Anti-Snake Vaccine

Ineffective anti-snake vaccines on the market have led to the death of 10 people, including a teacher, at the Wa West District Hospital in the Upper West Region, the hospital authorities have said.

The hospital authorities say they have not received anti-snake vaccines from the Ghana Health Service for some time now, a situation that compel doctors to prescribe it for patients to buy from pharmacies within Wa.

Officials of the hospital said the 10 people who were among a total of 50 persons brought to the facility with snake bites, received some of the vaccines procured from private pharmacies in the area but died.

According to the hospital, the 10 received between five and 10 doses of the vaccine but that could not save them, explaining that this was due to the ineffectiveness of the anti-snake vaccine.

“The anti-snake [vaccine] we were using was not very efficacious and we could use about 5 to 10 and still the patient could not improve,” Medical Superintendent of the Wa West District Hospital, Dr Benjamin Aminyuure told journalists.

He said that anti-snake vaccines are supposed to be supplied by the regional medical stores of the Ghana Health Service but they have received none for some time now, and as a result they always ask patients to buy some from pharmacy shops which cost between 250 and 400 cedis.

Dr. Aminyuure indicated that a lot of snake bite cases were recorded from 2017 to the latter part of 2018.

He said in view of the unavailability of the vaccines in their stores and the ineffectiveness of those from pharmacies in town, “management took it upon ourselves to look at getting an anti-snake vaccine that is very effective”.

Consequent to that, he said since the beginning of 2019, they have procured anti-snake vaccines from Tamale “which is very effective”.

“If you use one or two vaccines of the anti-snake, the patient recover immediately” Dr. Aminyuure added.

He indicated that the anti-snake vaccines they procured from Tamale are not being administered to patients for free since they had to buy them.

He said since the hospital started using the anti-snake vaccine they procured from Tamale this year, they have not recorded a single death from snake bite at the facility, even though they have recorded about 20 cases from January 1.

The medical superintendent said even though the commonest admission cases at the Wa West District Hospital is malaria, treatment of snake bite has become a major challenge not only to the hospital but also others including the regional hospital which also lack effective anti-snake vaccines.

Minister’s intervention

The alarming situation has forced the Upper West Regional minister Alhaji Alhassan Sulemana to invite the hospital authorities for a meeting next Tuesday to discuss how to resolve the issue

“…I promised that we are not going to sit with it; we are going to take it up immediately,” he said, adding “I’ve even asked them to come to my office by Tuesday next week so that we can take it up from there”.

The minister said they will get in touch with authorities at Ghana health services “to see to it that whatever they are recommending for us will be very efficacious and reliable for the people”.

Meanwhile the Minister has visited accident victims at the hospital.

The victims were returning from Wechiau after training on community watchdog committee against armed robbery when they were involved in a near fatal accident on their way to Ga last Tuesday.