The Kenyan Government is collaborating with Costa Rica to tackle the menace of snakebites in the East African Country.
This was disclosed on the official Twitter handle of the Health Cabinet Secretary of Kenya, Sicily Kariuki. In the tweet, Kariuki disclosed she met with the Costa Rica Ambassador to Kenya, Marta Eugenia Juarez during which they both discussed collaboration on the control of snakebite envenoming.
“Snakebite envenoming is a potentially life-threatening disease that typically results from the injection of a mixture of different toxins (“venom”) following the bite of a venomous snake. Envenoming can also be caused by having venom sprayed into the eyes by certain species of snakes that have the ability to spit venom as a defence measure.”“Source: WHO
Snakebite envenoming (SBE) affects about 2.7 million people every year, the majority of whom live in some of the world’s remotest, poorly developed, and politically marginalized tropical communities.
SBE has annual mortality of 81,000 to 138,000 and as many as 400,000 victims that survive suffer permanent physical and psychological damage.
In order to give attention to the devastating effects of snakebites, WHO has classified snakebite envenoming as one of the Neglected Tropical Diseases in 2017.
The World Health Organization is leading a strategy to reduce by half the number of deaths and disabilities caused by snakebite envenoming.
In the strategy report published in PLOS Neglected Tropic Diseases, the authors noted:
“Like many diseases of poverty, SBE has failed to attract requisite public health policy inclusion and investment for driving sustainable efforts to reduce the medical and societal burden. This is largely due to the demographics of the affected populations and their lack of political voice.”
Anti–venoms are an effective treatment for snakebite envenoming, found to be able to reduce mortality by up to 90% but many African countries do not have poison centres where the venoms are kept and access to them is still inadequate.
Thus a major part of the WHO strategy is to establish anti-venom stockpiles, especially in Sub-Saharan Africa and deliver more anti-venoms globally by 2030.
More specifically, WHO hopes to deliver 3 million more doses of ant-venoms by 2030, including 500 000 in Africa by 2024.
It is thus a step in the right direction that Kenya is already making snake envenoming a national priority.