Snakebite

The World Health Organization (WHO) estimates that about 5 million snakebites occur each year, resulting in up to 2.7 million envenomings. Published reports suggest that between 81,000 and 138,000 deaths occur each year. Snakebite envenoming causes as many as 400,000 amputations and other permanent disabilities. Many snakebites go unreported, often because victims seek treatment from non-medical sources or do not have access to health care. As a result it is believed that many cases of snakebite go unreported.

Snake antivenoms are effective treatments to prevent or reverse most of the harmful effects of snakebite envenoming. They are included in the WHO Essential Medicines List and should be part of any primary health-care package where snake bites occur.

Unfortunately many people either lack access to antivenom, or cannot afford to pay for them. Many families sell possessions or go into debt in order to obtain antivenom after someone is bitten. Difficulties in ensuring proper regulation and testing of antivenoms also affect the availability of good quality, effective products.

WHO added snakebite envenoming to its priority list of neglected tropical diseases (NTDs) in June 2017. A nationally representative study( Million Death study) noted--45,900 annual snakebite deaths nationally. In India, around 90% of snakebites are caused by the 'big four' among the crawlers - common krait, Indian cobra, Russell's viper and saw scaled viper. Effective interventions involving education and antivenom provision would reduce snakebite deaths in India.