Kirti Sahu & her 1.5yr old son Tikeshwar
Kirti Sahu is a 23 year old widow from Digepur Village in the Pithora District of Chhattisgarh. She has two very young children and lives with her in-laws in a mud house with nine other people in the family. It was Sept 2012 and the rains had just set in. Kirti was in her first trimester of pregnancy and had gone to answer nature’s call in the fields. She accidently stepped on a Russell’s viper that bit her just above the toes. She was taken to the Government hospital in Pithora where anti venom was administered and the doctors advised aborting the baby fearing the possibility of an adverse effect of the venom and anti-venom on the foetus. But the couple decided to keep the baby. Kirti was later shifted to Basna to a local healer. She was brought to the Anjali Health Centre in Lahrod after about three days of the bite incident.
The bite area after approx two years of the incident. It is yet to heal completely.
After spending four days at the Anjali Health Centre, Kirti was shifted to the Raipur Government Hospital and then to Baruda, near Raipur, to live with her mother for further treatment of the necrosis. With rising medical expenses on the one hand and a pregnant wife suffering from severe necrosis and intense pain on the other hand Kirti’s husband, Paras Nath Sahu was debt ridden and under severe financial stress by Dec 2012. He committed suicide on 13th Dec 2012 by consuming poison. He was found semi-conscious in the fields by his family. He was admitted to the hospital and died the same day.
Kirti with her deceased husband Paras Nath Sahu's picture.
Kirti’s son Tikeshwar was born on 22nd April 2013. Tikeshwar is an active and happy child but blind in one eye. Kirti has no source of income. She receives a monthly pension of Rs 200 under the widow’s pension scheme for BPL (Below Poverty Line) card holders in Chhattisgarh.
Kirti with Tinum (4yr old daughter) and Tikeshwar (15 month old son)
The purpose of sharing this story is to demonstrate the socio economic scenario in rural India and at what level a venomous snakebite can affect a person and her/his family’s life. Snake bite is curable and should be included in all state level health policies with a focus on free treatment to all victims that report to a government hospital. The scarcity of ASV (Anti Snake Venom) has raised the price of a single vial to almost Rs 950 in some places in India. Instead of killing snakes to address this issue, the government should make available ASVs at every single health care unit in India. No Indian should die of snakebite.
Sr Maria Goretti (from Anjali Health Centre) and the author documenting Kirti's story.
Written by : Priyanka Kadam
Priyanka Kadam Volenteered with of indiannsnakes.org for an year. She traveled to pithora to document and understand the the work done in association with Anjili Health Centre in Pithora.