The large majority of the victims of snakebite are politically voiceless subsistence farmers and the rural poor, displaced populations, and children. It is up to the international community to be their voice.
Kofi Annan Foundation,
Snakebite is a potentially life-threatening neglected tropical disease (NTD) that is responsible for immense suffering among some 5.8 billion people who are at risk of encountering a venomous snake. Each year, approximately 5.4 million people are bitten by a snake, of whom 2.7 million are injected with venom. Annually, this leads to 400,000 people being permanently disabled or disfigured and between 83,000-138,000 deaths, mostly in impoverished rural communities in sub-Saharan Africa and South Asia.
A lack of affordable and effective snakebite therapies exacerbates this situation.
Survivors of untreated envenoming may be left with amputation, blindness, mental health issues, and other forms of disability that severely affect their productivity. Each year 6-8 million disability-adjusted life years (DALYs) are lost to snakebite envenomation. Moreover, snakebite survivors often experience exclusion, stigmatization, and discrimination.
Every , one person dies from snakebite envenoming and four people are left permanently disabled.
Snakebite fatalities vary by region, in part characterized by the distribution of venomous snakes. Rural communities continue to bear the brunt of this burden, living and working in close proximity to these snakes and often far from hospitals and available treatments.
An unequal burden.
Both a consequence and a cause of tropical poverty.
The economic cost of treating snakebite envenoming is unimaginable in most communities and puts families and communities at risk of economic peril just to pay for treatment. A single dose of antivenom can cost between $18-200 USD per vial and treatment is rarely effective with a single dose; multiple vials are often needed. In India, for example, total treatment costs can be as high as $5,700 USD. Factoring in snakebite-related supportive care costs, and the economic impact can be crippling.
In low-middle income countries, up to 40% of snakebite victims need a loan to afford treatment. The financial repercussions of surviving snakebite often mean families are forced to choose between food and education. Further, most victims are agricultural workers and children. Thus, unable to work or go to school, the cycle of poverty continues.
Watch the documentary that has given a voice to millions of snakebite victims who have long awaited the world to tackle this little known global health crisis. Filmed on five continents, "Minutes to Die" takes you into the homes and hospitals of some of the 400,000 who are maimed or disabled each year. See how teaching prevention on the ground and the science of improving treatments aims to reverse the death toll - upwards of 138,000 people a year. Visit www.minutestodie.com to learn more!
Minutes to Die.
The above images are courtesy of the Lillian Lincoln Foundation and Minutes to Die. To reuse these images please credit accordingly.
© Lillian Lincoln Foundation.
© Lillian Lincoln Foundation.