Kilinochchi snakebite victims crowd small clinic for care

Daily upto 20 snakebite victims from the internally displaced persons (IDPs) are being brought to the Dharamapuram Medical Clinic for life saving urgent treatment, according to the Kilinochchi District Medical and Health Services officer Prathap Nayagam Brighton.

The Dharmapuram Clinic is primarily a Child Birth Centre and lacks space and facilities to see such large number of patients.

Colombo based Tamil Daily Thinakkural has quoted Kilinochchi Medical and Health officer’s grim situation details on it’s website from his interview with the BBC Tamil Service.

He said snakebite victims have to be treated within an hour or two to avoid fatalities. But even on Friday Oct 17th a two year old baby girl succumbed to a venomous snakebite, he said. Most are victims of a poisonous snake called ‘kanndan karuvalai’, (in Tamil கண்டன் கருவலை) according to the Kilinochchi Medical and Health officer.

Dr. Prathap Nayagam Brighton further said, there is a spike in the number of patients seeking urgent care at the Clinic. He said about 300 patients are in the clinic for long term care while about 900 come daily seeking outpatient care. He pointed out there is no adequate space and facilities to provide needed care for such a large number of patients.

Several areas in Kilinochchi outskirts are infested with poisonous snakes. Many IDPs are living in here in open and previously uninhabited areas. Snakes had taken residence in the ant hills in the region, but when people began to farm and started using chemical and fertilizers, the snakes had disappeared. However interruption in cultivation due to war and shortage of fertilizers as they are a restricted item by Sri Lanka military, the snake population has multiplied.

There is also rise in diarrhea and related illnesses. Medicines to treat these patients are also in short supply due to restrictions.

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