The Global Burden of Snakebite
Snakebite envenoming is a major—and massively neglected—public health challenge for many countries. The lack of reliable in-country data makes it difficult to know the true impact of snakebite, but at least 5.5 million people are bitten by a venomous snake every year. Of these, 2.7 million are serious cases that result in 400,000 disabilities and 125,000 deaths.
People who live in rural communities in some of the poorest countries on the planet are, by far, most greatly affected by the debilitating, even deadly, effects of snakebite. The cost of snakebite—to the social, economic and political fabrics of communities and countries—is enormous. Agricultural workers, who are often family ‘breadwinners’ and help drive local and national economies, are most often injured or killed by snakebite.
Effective antivenoms exist to treat snakebite, but the triple burden of poor availability, high prices and substandard quality of antivenoms prevent people from getting treatment. Access to good quality, robustly tested, safe and effective antivenoms is desperately needed.
To ignite international action on snakebite prevention and treatment, as well as the rehabilitation of snakebite survivors, Health Action International has teamed up with the Global Snakebite Initiative (GSI). Together, we have succeeded in helping build support to get snakebite added to the World Health Organization’s priority list of neglected tropical diseases. At the same time, we are developing a research methodology to measure snakebite. In addition, we are rolling out our own action plan to increase the capacity of civil society organisations in snakebite-affected countries to conduct research and advocacy on snakebite envenoming.
PREVIOUS EVENT: Health Action International and the Global Snakebite Initiative worked with the Government of Costa Rica to coordinate the first-ever member state side event on snakebite at the 69th World Health Assembly.