Fact Sheet | February 2022 | Download PDF

In Sub-Saharan Africa, up to 32,000 snakebite deaths occur every year. However, due to underreporting and a lack of research, the true burden remains unknown. Snakebite envenoming mainly affects the young and productive population groups. They are often part of communities living in rural regions, with poor access to quality healthcare. Availability of antivenom is low, especially in lower-level facilities that usually cater to rural areas.

In Kenya, the cost for one vial of antivenom, the only effective treatment of snakebite envenoming, can be up to 19,996.00 KSH. This is 44.2 days of wage for the lowest paid government worker. The long-term health effects after snakebite envenoming include amputations, deformities, muscular weakness, neurological impairment, blindness, chronic ulceration, chronic renal failure, depressive symptoms and post-traumatic stress disorder.

Families may have to deal with a loss of income, increase in caregiving needs, and high treatment costs. All of which, push them into debt or poverty. Further, there are likely many social consequences of living with a snakebite-related impairment or being a caregiver to the victim of snakebite. At this point, little is known about how snakebite affects people’s lives. The same goes for its impacts on the household’s work, social position, financial position, and (in)formal care needs. Health Action International (HAI) has studied the capacity of healthcare workers (HCWs) and health facilities to manage snakebites and its burden in affected communities (see Snakebite in Kenya: Evidence from the Field).

This research studied the acute and long-term socio-economic consequences of snakebite cases in Kajiado County, Kenya. It also showed that there are long-term consequences of snakebite which have not been documented yet. To give a voice to those still suffering from their snakebites, or from the impact it had on their life, their experiences must be heard. The Kajiado County government have made promising initial steps by allocating funding for snakebite community education and sensitisation. Further, HCW champions developed action plan priorities at a HCW Training of Trainers (ToT) workshop on snakebite care, management and treatment in 2021.

The findings and recommendations provide evidence on the lived experiences of snakebite victims to policy makers. Additionally, they inform further prioritisation of snakebite funding and resources to snakebite efforts.

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