WHO unveils Strategy to tackle Global Snakebite “Emergency”

The World Health Organization (WHO) has unveiled a new global strategy to greatly reduce deaths and injuries from snakebites. WHO also warned that a scarcity of antivenoms could soon spark a “public health emergency”.

About WHO’s Global Strategy

  • It seeks to achieve 50% reduction in mortality and disability caused by snakebite envenoming by 2030.
  • Increasing the number of manufacturers by 25% and significantly boost production of quality antivenoms.
  • Creating a global antivenom stockpile so as to ensure access to treatment like anti-venoms and ancillary medical care.
  • Encouraging research on new treatments, diagnostics and health device breakthroughs.
  • Integrating snakebite treatment and response into national health plans in affected countries and providing better training to health personnel and educating communities.

About Snakebite Envenoming

  • Need: Every year it affects about 1.8–2.7 million people, claiming 81,000–1,38,000 lives and causing around 4,00,000 cases of permanent disability.
  • Region Affected: In many tropical and subtropical countries Snake bite is a neglected public health issue. In 2017 World Health Organization (WHO) formally categorised “snakebite envenoming” as a Neglected Tropical Disease (NTD). Most of Snake bites occur in Asia, Africa and Latin America.
  • Consequences: Snake venom can cause- irreversible kidney failure, paralysis which can stop breathing, bleeding disorders that can lead to fatal haemorrhage, and tissue damage that can cause permanent disability and limb loss.
  • Most deaths and serious fatalities due to snake bites are entirely preventable by making High quality snake antivenoms accessible. They are also included in WHO’s List of essential medicines.

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