Tuesday, June 26, 2012

Snake Bites and the Occult . . .

The morning of the day I entrained to Delhi, we had a very young man being wheeled in. He was already dead and cold. Bitten by a snake the previous night, he was being managed using black-magic (jhad phook). Sometime early morning, the family realized that it may be better to give a try with the doctors. He reached the nearest district hospital only to realize that there were only a total of 2 vials of Anti-Snake Venom in town. PD, who had come few days back was from the same district - he could manage 5 ASVs. 

Even PD had accessed a witch-doctor before reaching the district hospital and later NJH. The worst part was that when PD was on the ventilator, the relatives had arranged for a local witch-doctor to come into the Acute Care Unit in the garb of a relative and perform witch-craft. I had the opportunity to witness the tamasha. Unfortunately, it did not cross my mind about taking a snap.

Later, after I had started off to Delhi, we got one more patient with a snake bite. He also had spent time with the 'jhad phook'. He is on the ventilator. We hope that he'll do well. 

It is unfortunate that even after quite a lot of awareness among the community about the success rates that patients with snake bites have with NJH, most of them do not turn up to the hospital fast. Of course, the dependency on the occult is not only limited to snake bites.  Hope you remember that MD, the patient with post-partum eclampsia had also come after a session with the witch-doctor.

I'm looking at the possibility of printing pamphlets about prevention and management of snake bites in the community. Please do send suggestions . . .


  1. I don't think that any printed material will do . Active involvement of local leaders can only do some good. How can you remove their superstition of thousand years in few years only. Try to motivate the faith healers to refer the venomous bites timely. We have got success in converting faith healers to science workers.

  2. Yes, it is indeed a very good idea to print such pamphlets for the community-- i shall be too happy to do their hindi translation for your mission.
    Keep up the good work.
    nice to visit your blog.

  3. If a snake shows and ruins your party, get the horses and everyone else out of the way! Best to call a reptile handler to deal with the problem.
    All the best