Odisha Govt prepares action plan to combat snakebite deaths

Bhubaneswar: The Odisha government has geared up to reduce snakebite deaths across the state after an analysis indicated that as many as 1716 people lost their lives due to snakebites during the last 3 years 2015-16 to 2017-18.

A meeting was held under the Chairmanship of Chief Secretary Aditya Prasad Padhi on Wednesday to discuss on preparing an action plan to contain huge number of deaths occurring in the state due to snakebites.

Expressing his concern on rising number of deaths, the Chief Secretary directed officials to take necessary steps to bring all snakebite victims to the nearest health institutions at the earliest for medical examination and administering Anti-Snake Venom (ASV), if required to save their lives and urged the victims not to avail treatment by quacks.

The meeting further discussed that massive awareness campaign shall be taken up by Health & Family Welfare, Forest & Environment, Panchayati Raj & Drinking Water, Women & Child Development and Mission Shakti, Agriculture & Farmers Empowerment and other Departments involving their field level workers.

This apart, the Orissa University of Agriculture and Technology (OUAT) shall take steps to sensitise the farmers during Farmers’ Trainings.

Padhi informed that special attention would be given to districts and blocks where more number of snakebite deaths has occurred.

Information, Education and Communication (IEC) materials on ‘Dos and Don’ts’ in case of snakebite shall be developed by the Forest & Environment Department both in Odia and English within seven days and the Health Department will take steps to print adequate copies for wide circulation.

It was also decided that sufficient quantity of Anti-Venom Serum would be kept in hospitals especially in all Community Health Centres (CHCs)/ Public Health Centres (PHCs) where large number of snakebite deaths has occurred. Also, required number of 108-Ambulance service would be made available in major affected blocks for shifting the snakebite patients to the nearest health institution.

Patra also directed the Health & Family Welfare Department to ensure availability of at least one MBBS Medical Officer in PHCs in highly snakebite-prone areas. 

Among others, Development Commissioner & Additional Chief Secretary R Balakrishnan, Additional Chief Secretary, Forest & Environment Department Suresh Chandra Mohapatra, Principal Secretary, Agriculture & Farmers’ Empowerment Department Dr. Saurabh Garg, Special Relief Commissioner & Commissioner-cum-Secretary, Revenue & DM (DM) Department Bishnupada Sethi, Commissioner-cum-Secretary, Health & Family Welfare Department Dr. Pramod Kumar Meherda, Managing Director, National Health Mission Shalini Pandit, Vice Chancellor, OUAT Surendranath Pasupalak PCCF (Wildlife), Dr. S. Tripathy, Special Secretary, Panchayati Raj & Drinking Water Department, , Additional Commissioner, Relief & Special Secretary, Revenue & DM (DM) Department, Additional Secretary, Women & Child Development and Mission Shakti Department, Director, Health Services, Joint Commissioner, Relief, Joint Secretary, Information & Public Relation, Chief General Manager, OSDMA were present at the meeting.

While 446 people died due to snakebites in 2015-16, the toll in 2016-17 and 2017-18 remained at 574 and 696 respectively.

The number of casualties due to snakebite, the highest among all disasters, accounts for about 37% of total disaster deaths (4689) during the period. Statistics show that the highest 164 deaths have occurred in Balasore district followed by 147 in Ganjam and 145 in both Keonjhar and Mayurbhanj during these years.

The highest casualties have occurred in July (314), followed by August (306), June (281), September (253), May (156) and October (154). The lowest snakebite deaths have occurred in January. Records of Health & Family Welfare Department show that 11,001 persons were admitted in different hospitals in the state during the year 2017-18.