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WHO targets a 50% reduction in deaths from snake bites

KARACHI: The WHO recently released further details concerning its strategy to prevent and control snakebite envenoming. Snakebite envenoming is a neglected tropical disease that affects 1.8–2.7 million people each year, claiming 81000–138000 lives and causing 400000 cases of permanent disability.

According to a WHO Geneva report, the aim of the strategy is to reduce the numbers of deaths and cases of disability due to snakebite envenoming over the next 12 years by half through a program that targets affected communities and their health systems, and by ensuring access to safe, effective treatment through increased cooperation, collaboration and partnership at all levels.

A 28-member panel of global experts developed the strategy in consultation with the WHO regional offices, the scientific and research community, health foundations, advocacy groups, and stakeholders. Given the importance of prevention, improved community education and empowerment and effective first response, the strategy commits to engaging communities to achieve these goals.

In parallel, the WHO will work with countries to strengthen health systems towards achieving the Sustainable Development Goals and its related targets including improving health and well-being and reducing inequity.

A central objective will be the need to ensure access to safe, effective and affordable treatment such as antivenoms and ancillary medical care. Improved and strengthened production, supply and distribution of life-saving antivenoms and other commodities needed to treat snakebites will be prioritized.

The WHO will also work to encourage research on new treatments, diagnostics, and health device breakthroughs that can improve treatment outcomes for victims and hasten recovery. The strategy –Snakebite envenoming: a strategy for prevention and control – will be launched at a meeting hosted by the governments of the Republic of Costa Rica and the Federal Republic of Nigeria on May 23rd 2019 in Geneva, Switzerland.

 

May 16, 2019

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