Traditional medicine (8) Snakebite envenoming: facts and figures

5 February, 2019

Extracts below from an article on SciDev.net. Full text here: https://www.scidev.net/global/health/feature/snakebite-envenoming-facts-...

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Speed read:

- Snakebites kill more people than many other neglected diseases

- Of two million cases reported annually, 130,000 turn fatal

- Antivenoms can cure snakebite but are too costly to manufacture

...“The aim is to reduce the scale of the problem by achieving a 50 per cent reduction in deaths and disabilities by 2030,” says David Williams, a member of the WHO’s core working group on this issue and head of the Australian Venom Research Unit at the University of Melbourne.

Scientists agree that achieving this will require greater access to safe, effective, low-cost antivenoms. But there are hurdles such as lack of skill among health workers, under-equipped health facilities and the preference of many snakebite victims to go to a traditional healer rather than a hospital for treatment...

Effective and safe antivenoms are available but the cost is beyond the reach of many patients, who instead turn to traditional healers or cheaper alternatives. But low price means the drugs are usually of poor quality, untested or even fake. Soon enough patients no longer place their faith in medication, and demand for antivenom drops even further.

As a result, manufacturers either raise their prices or stop production altogether, as was the case with the French pharmaceutical company Sanofi, which in 2010 stopped producing Fav-Afrique, a highly effective and affordable pan-African antivenom. The company deemed the African market not lucrative enough...

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Best wishes, Neil

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HIFA profile: Neil Pakenham-Walsh is coordinator of the HIFA global health campaign (Healthcare Information For All - www.hifa.org ), a global community with more than 19,000 members in 177 countries, interacting on six global forums in four languages. Twitter: @hifa_org FB: facebook.com/HIFAdotORG neil@hifa.org