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UP: PHC, CHC staff wary of handling snakebite cases

A reality check at the health centres in the periphery of the state capital revealed that primary health centres (PHCs) avoided taking such cases, while the community health centres (CHCs) issued a warning that patients might be referred to another hospital as the existing facilities did not match those available in higher centres.

lucknow Updated: Aug 30, 2018 13:36 IST
Gaurav Saigal
Gaurav Saigal
Hindustan Times, Lucknow
Uttar Pradesh,PHC,CHC
No Stretcher? Parents ferrying their kid( who had a fracture) in a rickshaw after treatment at Mal CHC.(Deepak Gupta/ HT Photo)

If you or a loved one is bitten by a snake, choose the health centre for anti-snake venom (ASV) treatment wisely.

A reality check at the health centres in the periphery of the state capital revealed that primary health centres (PHCs) avoided taking such cases, while the community health centres (CHCs) issued a warning that patients might be referred to another hospital as the existing facilities did not match those available in higher centres.

POOR RESPONSE
  • Kakori CHC: The person at the reception suggested the snake bite case better be taken to Lucknow.
  • Kasmandi Kalan PHC in Malihabad: Treatment for snake bite is not possible here, a staffer said, adding one may take the patient to a CHC or higher centre.
  • Saspan PHC in Mal: Snake bite cases are not treated here. Please take the patient to CHC as we do not have the facilities
  • Hasanpur health centre in Mal: The centre was found closed at 12.15pm.

HT Team took a first-hand look at how the health centre staff, particularly at the PHCs and the CHCs on the outskirts of the district, reacted to the prospect of snakebite patients being sent to them for treatment. At a majority of the centres, the staff tried to avoid dealing with the matter when they heard about a snakebite case.

When told about a snake bite case, the person at the reception of the Kakori community health centre, who was also issuing OPD tickets, said, “Better take the patient to Lucknow. The time you would take to bring the patient here can be utilised to reach Lucknow as it is difficult to handle reactions in such patients.” He did not even ask for the patient’s details.

At the Saspan primary health centre in Mal, the woman at the main counter said, “We don’t accept such patients. Take the person to a CHC.”

However, a doctor at the Mal CHC was ready to treat the patient and said the patient should be brought immediately.

For their part, villagers were not sure where to go if someone happened to be bitten by a snake. When asked, Heeralal, a resident of Mal, said, “I don’t know which place is to be approached in case of a snakebite. Perhaps, some big hospital in Lucknow will help the person.”

Chief medical officer of Dr Narendra Agrawal said that all PHCs and CHCs had been provided with the ASV and could cater to snake bite patients.

He said if any medical staffer was avoiding snake bite patients, the matter should be reported to the authorities.

“Fresh orders will be issued to all CHCs and PHCs not to turn away such patients. We have arranged ASV at all of them (centres) and more can be supplied immediately as and when any shortage is reported,” said Dr Agrawal.

WHERE IS THE PROBLEM?

At the periphery, the government health services have bare minimum facilities. These facilities are available till late in the afternoon. After that, the number of staff remains meager on the premises.

“If you have bare minimum facilities and staff, any situation can turn into a big problem. Consider a snake bite case where an anaphylactic reaction (a severe allergic reaction) can put the medical staff in trouble due to the family members’ emotional outburst,” said a doctor posted at one of the PHCs.

He said since PHCs did not have facilities such as intensive care units, the staff often referred serious cases elsewhere.

The ASV should be available at every PHC and CHC during the monsoon, an expert said.

At least for two months a year, the PHCs and CHCs should be well equipped to tackle snake bite cases, said Dr PK Gupta, former president of the Indian Medical Association, Lucknow.

“Since such cases happen mostly during the monsoon on the city outskirts where the PHCs are located, the availability of ASV availability and trained staff can save many lives. ASV should be kept for the entire year,” said Dr Gupta.

First Published: Aug 30, 2018 13:36 IST