Living in remote villages, they are cut off from access to medical facilities. “The snakebite happened at about eight in the evening,” Muthusamy recalls. “I became unconscious, and was rushed to the government hospital. I was given antivenom and sent to a private hospital for dialysis (kidney treatment).” Muthusamy was bitten by a Russell’s viper. This snake’s venom affects the kidneys directly. Although antivenom is given for free at the government hospital, the victims are often left with no choice but to visit private hospitals to save their vital organs, as there is no facility for dialysis at public hospitals.

Heavy social and financial burden

Muthusamy spent a month in a private hospital, with two weeks in the intensive care unit. Not only did he lose his livelihood as a farmer, but he spent almost Rs 400,000 on healthcare in the hospital. “I sold jewellery, and my relatives loaned me some money.