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, the Global Snakebite Initiative (GSI) was established. Health Action International is the secretariat for GSI. Together, we are building support for snakebite to once again be recognised by the World Health Organization (WHO) as a highly neglected tropical disease. We are also urging the WHO and national governments to design and implement policies that improve snakebite data gathering and analysis, prevention and treatment. Our work also involves building capacity amongst civil society organisations and healthcare systems in snakebite-affected countries so they are better equipped to combat snakebite morbidity and mortality.
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.