CHANDIGARH RECORDED the highest number of deaths due to snakebite among all the Union Territories in 2016, revealed a report submitted by the Union Ministry of Health to the Lok Sabha.
The number of snakebite deaths recorded in the country in 2016 (provisional) was 1064. According to the report, a total of 36 snakebite deaths was reported from Chandigarh in 2016. In 2014 and 2015, the number of such deaths in the city were 10 and 16, respectively. The report, though, does not specify the places where these 36 people, who subsequently died in hospitals across the city, were bitten.
“Since Chandigarh has two major tertiary-care hospitals – Post Graduate Institute of Medical Education and Research in Sector 12 and Government Medical College and Hospital in Sector 32 – patients from nearby cities and neighbouring states also come here for treatment. These 36, who eventually died here, may comprise patients from outside of Chandigarh too,” said Dr Rakesh Kashyap, Director Health Services (DHS), Chandigarh
According to the report, of the seven UTs, Chandigarh had the highest of 36 snakebite deaths, while Dadra & Nagar Haveli reported nine. Three UTs – Daman and Diu, Lakshwadeep and Andaman and Nicobar Islands – did not report any snakebite death in 2016. The country’s capital, Delhi, said the report, recorded one death, while Puducherry had five snakebite deaths last year.
During the ongoing session of Parliament, two MPs, Hari Manjhi and Jugal Kishore, raised this issue and asked if these deaths across the country were due to lack of anti-snake venom. In its reply, the health ministry has said, “Central government provides assistance to the states to strengthen health infrastructure under the National Health Mission. This facilitates treatment for various diseases and emergencies, including snakebite. Health being a state subject, the ministry has asked the states to procure anti- snake venom serum under National Health Mission after reflecting the same in the annual PIP for approvals.”
In Chandigarh, experts said that since the city has forest areas in the vicinity, there is always a “high chance of snakebites”. “The exact reason why so many deaths occurred in the city could be confirmed only after studying each and every case. There is a possibility that there could be a delay in treatment or patients reaching hospital late,” Dr PVM Lakshmi, additional professor of the Department of Community Medicine at PGI, told Chandigarh Newsline.
The health ministry has also released a report of deaths due to rabies. There has been no death due to rabies in Chandigarh from 2014-2016. Of the seven UTs, only Delhi reported four rabies deaths last year. In the country, the number of deaths due to rabies was 86 in 2016.