Snakebites is a deadly disease

Study alerts for the need of more attention by governments and international authorities


There are no evidences of future investments in the field despite the most alarming rates related to snakebite envenoming

Western Africa is commonly affected by several lethal virus such as HIV and Ebola. Other typical issues among tropical countries are also concerning, such as leishmaniasis and tripanosomiasis. However, a local epidemic draws attention for being as dangerous or even more: snakebite envenoming.

The problem affects great part of the African continent and, in the Sub-Sahara region, over 7 thousand people die every year due to this issue. Besides this, snakebites lead to 5 thousand amputations and respond for the occupation of up to 10% of the hospital beds in some countries. In comparison, the recent Ebola outbreak in the region killed around 11 thousand people.

This loss was demonstrated in a study by Doctor Habib Abdulrazaq. For this, the number of years lost by incapacities or deaths caused by snakebites. The research showed that annually 320 thousand years are lost in West Africa for this reason. The result exceeds even the estimates of other common diseases in tropical countries as yellow fever.

According to the studys authors, the importance os the theme for global public health is usually neglected and underestimated. Snakebite envenoming is not among the 17 main tropical neglected diseases by the World Health Organization (WHO), although menioned among other neglected conditions. However, there is no official program by WHO for its prevention or treatment.

The disparity is also visible in a survey that evaluated fundings by the 43 largest donors (among them industrialized countries and pharmaceutical companies) for health development in the world. For each lost year of life due to intestinal infections caused by nematodes, for example, US$3.30 are invested. On the other hand, for snakebite envenoming, that has much more alarming rates, there are no evidences of any amount to control this issue.

Despite the high snakebite incidence in the region, the governments funding for prevention or treatment is usually limited, the researchs authors said. For them, there must be efforts and funding compatible with the reality demanded by the problem.

The work was based in medical literature from West Africa, splitting the cases from rural areas (where 95% of the cases take place) and urban areas.…