From UPSC perspective, the following things are important :
Prelims level : Not Much
Mains level : WHO strategy on snakebites
- The World Health Organisation has unveiled a new strategy to dramatically cut deaths and injuries from snakebites, warning a dearth of antivenoms could soon spark a “public health emergency”.
- The UN agency called for “the restoration of a sustainable market for snakebite treatment”, insisting on the need for a 25-per cent increase in the number of competent manufacturers by 2030.
- WHO said it planned a pilot project to create a global antivenom stockpile.
- The strategy also called for integrating snakebite treatment and response into national health plans in affected countries, including better training of health personnel and educating communities.
- WHO, which two years ago categorised “snakebite envenoming” as a Neglected Tropical Disease, presented a strategy aimed at cutting snakebite-related deaths and disabilities in half by 2030.
- An important part of the strategy is to significantly boost production of quality antivenoms.
Snakebite: An Emergency
- Each year, nearly three million people are bitten by poisonous snakes, with an estimated 81,000-138,000 deaths.
- Another 400,000 survivors suffer permanent disabilities and other after-effects, according to WHO figures.
- Snake venom can cause paralysis that stops breathing, bleeding disorders that can lead to fatal haemorrhage, irreversible kidney failure and tissue damage that can cause permanent disability and limb loss.
- Most snakebite victims live in the world’s tropical and poorest regions, and children are worse affected due to their smaller body size.
- It causes nearly 50,000 deaths in India every year.
- Four snake varieties – Indian Cobra, Russel’s viper, saw-scaled viper and Indian common krait are mostly responsible for most snakebite deaths.
- Production of life-saving antivenoms has been abandoned by a number of companies since the 1980s, and availability of effective and safe products is disastrously low in Africa especially, with a similar crisis also looming in Asia.