Snakebite: time for collective action

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Monday, 29 October 2018

The World Health Organization estimates that between 81,000 and 138,000 people around the world die each year from snakebite and up to 400,000 are left permanently disabled or disfigured, as a result of being bitten by venomous snakes.

In many communities, these permanent injuries result in people being discriminated against and ostracised. It leads to crippling loss of income, debt, mental health issues and reduced quality of life.

64 countries around the world see significant death and disability from snakebites, with the most affected being in Africa, Asia and Latin America. Asia, and in particular India, has the largest burden with up to 2 million people being are envenomed each year. In Africa, an estimated 435,000 to 580,000 snakebites happen every year.

In the run up to 19 September, when we were part of a coalition of organisations working on global health and tropical medicine around the world, that launched the first-ever International Snakebite Awareness Day, we travelled to the Alistair Reid Venom Unit at the Liverpool School of Tropical Medicine to explore the impact of snakebite with Dr Nick Casewell and Dr Robert Harrison.  

We're also looking forward to carrying on the momentum into 2019 with a series of activities.

These will include an All-Party Parliamentary Groups meeting in the UK and a special issue of Transactions on the topic at the beginning of the year, as well as the second International Snakebite Awareness Day, which we will mark at ECTMIH 2019 in September.

We also hope that there'll be an update on WHO's road map on snakebite around the World Health Assembly in May.   

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