Berlin - Around five million people around the world are bitten by poisonous snakes every year. Around 100,000 of them die from it, and 400,000 other patients become disabled or disfigured. "More and more often, the emergency teams have to take care of victims of snakebites," said the aid organization today.
But snakebites are way down on the national and international health policy agenda - despite the many fatalities. Doctors Without Borders gives four reasons for this: First of all, it is difficult to precisely determine the number of victims. Often they are people in inaccessible, rural areas. Since they had little access to health care and could not afford expensive treatment, they turned to traditional healers or forego treatment altogether.
Second, the life-saving antidotes are expensive. In sub-Saharan Africa, the cost of the antidote can go as high as $ 250 or $ 500 per patient, according to Doctors Without Borders. Thirdly, research and development into new diagnostic and treatment methods is insufficient. "And fourthly, the governments and donors show little interest in tackling the problem," criticized the aid organization. Many of the hardest hit countries also neglected the problem. Governments and health authorities failed to adequately train health workers to diagnose and treat snake bite poisoning.
"All these factors together have resulted in snakebite victims having completely inadequate access to treatment, ”criticizes Doctors Without Borders.
The aid organization demands, among other things, that the World Health Organization should appoint an expert to provide advice and support as needed could. Governments and health authorities should ensure adequate training of health workers in the diagnosis and treatment of poisonous snake bites. Studies should improve knowledge of the epidemiology and optimal treatment of snake bites in sub-Saharan countries. In addition, international donors and the institutions that support programs to combat neglected tropical diseases should finance the production of effective antidotes.