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While most people may assume that scorpions are insects, they are actually arachnids, but unlike arachnids, they are probably not more afraid of us than we are of them. Growing up, we heard our mothers repeat this line in an effort to ease our natural fear of everything eight legged. While this supposed wisdom may be true of scorpions, there is no denying that scorpions are far more aggressive than most venomous arachnids. While scorpions may be afraid of us, they are certainly not too afraid to attack us, and those living in the dry and arid climate of Algeria, Africa know this well. Perhaps this is why the Algerian public, as well as many other people around the world, became outraged after a government minister in the country demonstrated a complete lack of respect for the dead by blaming a fatal scorpion sting on the now deceased victim. To make things worse, the insensitive comments were made by the country’s health minister who should possess a realistic view of the public health dangers posed by some types of native wildlife.

While discussing healthcare reform in Algiers last week, Health Minister Mokhtar Hasbellaoui could not help but to express his own personal feelings concerning the death of a beloved Algerian professor who recently died after spending 10 days in a coma due to a scorpion sting. According to the minister, the woman’s death was her own fault, as she provoked the scorpion into stinging her. To make matters even more tragic, scorpion anti-venom could have saved her life, but there had not been any anti-venom available at the time. The fact that scorpion anti-venom had not been available to save this woman’s life could be blamed on the health minister himself, making his comments all the more repugnant.

According to the minister, the woman must be at fault for her own death, as the “animal world is a friendly world.” He also claimed that no animal attacks a human without first being provoked, suggesting that the deceased woman had provoked the arachnid into stinging her. Finally, the minister claimed that these deaths are necessary in order to better understand how such occurrences can be avoided in the future. In response to the minister’s many comments, a massive amount of Algerians took to social media with harsh criticisms toward their health minister. Strangely, a mere weeks before the female professor died, she publicly complained about a lack of government spending on infrastructure and necessary industrial equipment in Algeria’s wealthiest province.

Do you find it hard to believe that scorpion anti-venom could not be located in time to properly treat the woman’s injury?