Snakebite: WHO targets 50% reduction in deaths and disabilities
WHO has released further details of its strategy to prevent and control snakebite envenoming, a neglected tropical disease that affects 1.8–2.7 million people each year, claiming 81 000–138 000 lives and causing 400 000 cases of permanent disability.
The aim of the strategy is to halve the numbers of deaths and cases of disability due to snakebite envenoming over the next 12 years through a programme 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.
The strategy was developed by a 28-member panel of global experts in consultation with 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, 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.
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 23 May 2019 in Geneva, Switzerland.