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The time is now: a call for action to translate recent momentum on tackling tropical snakebite into sustained benefit for victims

Harrison, Robert, Casewell, Nicholas ORCID:, Ainsworth, Stuart ORCID: and Lalloo, David ORCID: (2019) 'The time is now: a call for action to translate recent momentum on tackling tropical snakebite into sustained benefit for victims'. Transactions of the Royal Society of Tropical Medicine and Hygiene, Vol 113, Issue 12, pp. 835-838.

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Like the other WHO-listed Neglected Tropical Diseases (NTDs), snakebite primarily affects rural, impoverished tropical communities that lack adequate health resources. The annual 138 000 deaths and 400 000 disabilities suffered by these subsistence farming communities means that snakebite is an additional cause and consequence of tropical poverty. Unlike most of the NTDs, however, snakebite is a medical emergency, and requires rapid treatment in a hospital equipped with effective antivenom, beds and appropriately trained staff. The lack of such facilities in the remote areas most affected by snakebite, and the high treatment costs, explains why most victims, particularly in sub-Saharan Africa, consult traditional healers rather than seek hospital care. Whilst affordable, there is no evidence that traditional treatments are effective. The number of snakebite victims that die, unregistered, in the community is threefold higher than hospital-recorded deaths.

After decades of inertia, WHO benefitted from advocacy interventions and the support of key agencies, including Médecins Sans Frontières, the Wellcome Trust, the Kofi Annan Foundation and the Global Snakebite Initiative, to recently institute transformative actions for reducing the public health burden of tropical snakebite. It is imperative that WHO and the other stakeholders now gain the support and investment of governments, research funders and donor agencies to ensure that this recent momentum for change is translated into sustained benefit to snakebite victims.

Item Type: Article
Subjects: WA Public Health > Health Problems of Special Population Groups > WA 395 Health in developing countries
WD Disorders of Systemic, Metabolic or Environmental Origin, etc > Animal Poisons > WD 410 Reptiles
Faculty: Department: Biological Sciences > Department of Tropical Disease Biology
Digital Object Identifer (DOI):
Depositing User: Stacy Murtagh
Date Deposited: 01 Feb 2019 16:55
Last Modified: 23 Jan 2020 11:56


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