How Nigeria can develop local anti-snake venom - Experts

Once administered, the animals are left to develop antibodies over time. When they do, the serum will be harvested, purified and stored in ampoules
How Nigeria can develop local anti-snake venom - Experts

A consultant and infectious diseases expert in Lagos University Teaching Hospital, Dr. Adefolarin Opawoye says the challenge of producing Anti-Snake Venom (ASV) goes beyond studying the snakes in a laboratory.

While declaring that it is a capital intensive project, Opawoye called on the Federal Government to give priority to local production of the drug.

The physician emphasised that the production of ASV involves a process where venoms are extracted from particular snakes and injected in small amounts into higher animals who are immune against snakebites such as horses and camels.

“Once administered, the animals are left to develop antibodies over time. When they do, the serum will be harvested, purified and stored in ampoules.

“Unfortunately, the major challenge with that process is that we don’t do it here in Nigeria,” he bemoaned.

In a related development, a professor of Infectious and Tropical Diseases at Bayero University, Kano, Abdulrazaq Habib disclosed that local production is not rocket science and can even be replicated at the state level.

He declared that the National Veterinary Research Institute in Jos, Plateau State, can easily develop the anti-venoms with contributions from immunologists, virologists and experts in animal husbandry.

“That was exactly what we told government officials in Gombe. Bauchi State Governor, Bala Mohammed, was excited about the idea because his village is endemic with snakebites. He is from Duguri in Bauchi. Apparently, it is a common problem there.

“We also had another meeting with Prof. Oyewole Tomori and the DG of Jos VeterinaryInstitute. Now that we are talking about COVID-19 and other vaccines, such production can go together because they are biological. Nigeria should be talking about self-sufficiency.

“Sub-Saharan Africa is the only place that lacks manufacturers. Libya, South Africa and Egyp tall have manufacturers.

“But it must be said that South Africa’s anti-venom is very expensive. It costs $315 per vial. That is approximately N129,000 in local currency,” he said.

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