Russell’s viper: Legal notice to require antivenom in all hospitals


A legal notice has been sent to the concerned government officials to ensure adequate supply of antivenom to every hospital, clinic, health center in the country, skilled doctors and environmentally friendly vaccine production within the country to prevent death due to Russel’s viper bite.

On Tuesday (June 25), Supreme Court lawyer Md. Bahauddin Al Imran sent this notice.

In the notice, the Secretary of the Public Security Department of the Ministry of Home Affairs, the Secretary of the Health Services Department of the Ministry of Health, the Director General of the Directorate of Health and the Director General of the Directorate of Drug Administration have been named defendants.

Within seven days of receiving the notice, hospitals, clinics and health care centers across the country have been asked to store adequate antivenom vaccine, rapidly improve training of vaccine providers, and take appropriate measures to produce environmentally friendly anti-venom vaccine within the country. Otherwise, a writ will be filed in the High Court seeking necessary remedies in this regard.

According to the notice, panic has recently spread in several districts of Bangladesh about the Russell’s viper snake. However, the countrymen are expressing concern about the issue due to the social media Facebook. Many are preaching that a snake bite is a quick death. The situation has reached such a level that many are campaigning to kill the Russell’s viper. Russell’s viper reproduces very quickly. As a result, there is a campaign that the abundance of these snakes in the rural areas of Bangladesh will pose a threat to people. As a result, there is a need to disseminate the opinions of experts on this.

‘According to health experts, the substance that is effective against poison or can neutralize the poison is called antivenom. If antivenom is injected quickly after a snake bite or sting, the antibodies to the antivenom neutralize the venom. As a result the life or limb of the affected person is saved.’

The notice also said that some people have died due to Russell’s viper bites in some districts of the country recently. Government officials said that at least five people have died due to venomous Russell’s viper snake bites in some areas of Manikganj near Dhaka in the last three months. After that, the news of catching such snakes in several other districts including Bhola was circulated in various media. As a result, farmers are living in fear of producing crops in the field.

The nationwide program for non-communicable disease control (NCDC) conducted a survey on snakebites, the notice said. According to the data published by them in 2023, 4 lakh 3 thousand 317 people are affected by snake bites in the country every year and 7 thousand 511 people die. Apart from humans, animals are also suffering from snake bites at an alarming rate. About 19,000 domestic animals are affected by snake bites every year and 250,000 of them die. As a result huge amount of financial loss is caused every year.

‘According to media reports, many people die from venomous snake bites in Bangladesh every year due to lack of timely treatment, especially due to lack of adequate antivenom in hospitals. Because no antivenom is produced locally in Bangladesh. The antivenoms that are now used to treat snake bites in the country come from India. According to World Health Organization guidelines, antivenom prepared from local snakes is most effective in treating snakebite patients. Antivenoms from other countries may not be 100% effective in this country. Because the nature of snakes in each country is different. The snakes from which the venom is collected in India do not completely match the snakes of Bangladesh. But for years, snakebite patients in Bangladesh are being served with Indian antivenom. Even though the World Health Organization calls antivenom an essential medicine, Bangladesh has still failed to make its own snake venom antivenom.

The notice also states that, within seven days of receiving the notice, adequate antivenom vaccine storage in hospitals, clinics and health care centers across the country, advanced training of vaccine providers as soon as possible, and appropriate measures to produce environmentally friendly anti-snake venom vaccine within the country have been requested.

Otherwise, a case will be filed in the High Court for necessary remedies in this regard, the notice also informed.

FH/ZH/ASM