The Global Burden of Snakebite
Snakebite envenoming is a devastating—and massively neglected—public health challenge in many countries throughout Africa, Asia and Latin America. The lack of reliable in-country data makes it difficult to know the true impact of snakebite envenoming, but conservative estimates show that, every year, it kills 81,000–138,000 people and leaves 400,000 more with significant disabilities, such as amputated limbs and blindness.
Impoverished people living in rural areas, particularly agricultural workers, herders, fishers, hunters, working children, people living in poorly constructed homes, and people with limited access to education and healthcare, are at greatest risk of snakebite envenoming.
To minimise the suffering caused by snakebite envenoming, community knowledge and use of effective snakebite prevention and first aid measures must be increased. In addition, reliable access to safe, effective, affordable, appropriate and quality-assured antivenom and other clinical and rehabilitation treatment by trained healthcare workers is desperately needed.
To ignite international action on snakebite prevention, treatment and rehabilitation, Health Action International (HAI) has teamed up with the Global Snakebite Initiative. In 2017, our advocacy and awareness-raising successfully contributed to getting snakebite envenoming onto the World Health Organization’s priority list of neglected tropical diseases. It also contributed to the adoption of a Resolution on Snakebite Envenoming by the 71st World Health Assembly in 2018, which further compels the WHO and its Member States to take concerted action on snakebite.
In addition to our advocacy work at the global level, we are rolling out HAI’s Snakebite Programme in Kenya, Uganda, and Zambia. Together, with the Global Snakebite Initiative and our country partners, the James Ashe Antivenom Trust (Kenya), HEPS Uganda, and Mr Liyoka Liyoka (Zambia), our Programme is:
- Gathering evidence on snakebite incidence rates and the price, availability and affordability of antivenom.
- Helping to educate and inform communities and civil society representatives about effective snakebite prevention, first-aid and treatment, and improve health seeking behaviour for snakebite.
- Equipping civil society with evidence and advocacy skills to press for greater policy action on snakebite.
The Programme, funded by the Netherlands Ministry of Foreign Affairs, is based on our Action Plan on Preventing and Treating Snakebite in Resource-poor Settings