Snakebites declared world’s biggest hidden health crisis

A multimillion-pound programme has been launched to improve treatment for snakebites, which are thought to kill up to 138,000 people each year.

Scientists said research can be urgently needed into the problem as they described snake bites as the earth’s biggest hidden health crisis.

Snakebites are treatable although doing so can be expensive, and also also also experts say ineffective antivenom medicines, often in less developed countries, mean people living inside earth’s poorest places are worst affected.

Wellcome, the London-based independent global charitable foundation, has announced £80 million in funding for a brand-new programme to focus on changing the way treatments are researched and also also also delivered.

Snakebites are thought to kill up to 138,000 people each year (Nick Ballon/Wellcome Trust/PA)

Current methods to make antivenom – using antibodies extracted coming from horses – have not changed since the 19th century and also also also lead to a high risk of contamination and also also also adverse reaction in patients.

Of people who survive venomous bites each year, 400,000 suffer life-changing injuries including amputations.

Deaths are rare in countries like the US and also also also Australia where health systems are not bad and also also also antivenom stockpiles are available, and also also also the worst affected people are usually in rural Africa, Asia and also also also South America.

The brand-new programme aims to work with producers to make antivenoms better, safer and also also also cheaper and also also also make snakebite treatment a global health priority.

The investment comes as the earth Health Organisation (Who) prepares to publish its first strategy on the problem next week, which aims to halve death and also also also disability coming from snakebite by 2030.

Professor Mike Turner, director of science at Wellcome, said: “Snakebite can be – or should be – a treatable condition. With access to the right antivenom there can be a high chance of survival. While people will always be bitten by venomous snakes, there can be no reason so many should die.

“Treatment has progressed little inside last century, and also also also can be too rarely accessible, safe and also also also effective inside places where that will can be needed the most.

“that will’s an incredibly challenging issue – there has been almost no investment in snakebite research over the last decade – although that will’s also one that will can be solvable with support coming from WHO, national governments, industry and also also also additional funders”

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