The deaths of nearly 1,000 people every year from snake bites, which could easily have been prevented with the availability of the right anti-venom drugs, is a needless public health sector headache.
Indeed, this is a conservative figure as the toll could be much higher since many cases in the remote areas go unreported.
It’s a pity that many of the victims die simply because the nearby public health facilities do not have adequate stocks of anti-venom medicines.
These very useful drugs are not that expensive and should be available at every health facility throughout the country, especially in the snake bite-prone rural areas.
It is a damning mockery of the fairly well-developed public healthcare system to have so many Kenyans die from such preventable causes as all that is needed is to import and stock the right anti-venom drugs.
The increased encroachment on forested areas for settlement and agriculture has diminished the habitat for snakes and other creatures, heightening the human-wildlife conflict.
Since snake bites are the highest cause of death in this conflict, one would expect the national capacity to deal with the threat to be enhanced.
Health officials in Lamu and Taita-Taveta counties, which are some of the most affected, are up in arms over the importation of ineffective drugs.
But that some of the imported drugs have been found to be ineffective cannot be a justification for these deaths.
Interestingly, however, venom produced in Kenya is exported to South Africa for the manufacture of anti-venom drugs, which are unavailable to Kenyans because they are yet to be registered locally.
What a lame excuse, when the country is faced with such a serious health challenge! The Health authorities can do better.