Snake venom Antiserum which is not supposed to be sold to clients is being smuggled out of public health facilities to private pharmacies and individuals in the Bawku West District of the Upper East region.
Investigations has revealed that the Awulugu Pharmacy, a private pharmacy located in Zebilla town, and Madam Mercy Apambe, an over-the-counter medicine seller who doubles as a health aide at the Zebilla District Hospital, are involved in the business.
Mr. Isaac Aduko, a Pharmacist at the Regional Medical Store who is also in charge of the Awalugu Pharmacy, in an interview, said he was surprised to know that the private Pharmacy had the snake venom antiserum in stock and was selling it.
He said he did not know how the serum got to the pharmacy but explained that the owner of the pharmacy had told him they were brought in from Tamale.
Madam Apambe on her part refused to disclose the source of the antiserum in her possession.
Mr. Safianu Tilado Hamidu, a Pharmacist at the Zebilla District Hospital, alleged that some casual workers at the hospital’s pharmacy were selling not only the Snake Venom Antiserum but also other drugs were stolen from the unit to private facilities in the District.
Mr. Hamidu expressed worry about the situation, saying “Anytime I am not in the dispensary a lot of pilfering goes on. It is a very serious issue, these workers are milking the District Hospital's Pharmacy dry to enrich themselves at the expense of poor patients.
When snake bite cases are reported at the hospital, and snake venom antiserum is prescribed, some dispensary staff sell the drug to victims at a cost of ¢300.00, the same price that the private pharmacies sell the medicine.
Madam Asimala Ayanaba, an old woman who sent her grandson to the Zebilla Hospital for treatment after a snake bite last week, had to borrow ¢300.00 to buy the antiserum from one Mr. Samuel Akongo a nurse at the hospital.
Meanwhile, the Zebilla District Police have invited Madam Apambe and the Management of Awalugu Pharmacy for questioning, and the two have been booked for prosecution in court on May 10, 2016.