Snakebite envenoming from a global perspective: Towards an integrated approach.
Gutiérrez JM., Williams D., Fan HW., Warrell DA.
Snakebite envenoming is a neglected public health challenge of compelling importance in many regions of the world, particularly sub-Saharan Africa, Asia, Latin America and Papua-New Guinea. Addressing the problem of snakebite effectively demands an integrated multifocal approach, targeting complex problems and involving many participants. It must comprise: (a) Acquisition of reliable information on the incidence and mortality attributable to snakebite envenoming, and the number of people left with permanent sequelae. (b) Improvements in production of effective and safe antivenoms, through strategies aimed at strengthening the technological capacity of antivenom manufacturing laboratories. (c) Increasing the capacity of low-income countries to produce specific immunogens(snake venoms) locally, and to perform their own quality control of antivenoms. (d) Commitments from regional producers to manufacture antivenoms for countries where antivenom production is not currently feasible. (e) Implementation of financial initiatives guaranteeing the acquisition of adequate volumes of antivenom at affordable prices in low-income countries. (f) Performance of collaborative studies on the safety and effectiveness of antivenoms assessed preclinically and by properly designed clinical trials. (g) Development of antivenom distribution programmes tailored to the real needs and epidemiological situations of rural areas in each country. (h) Permanent training programmes for health staff, particularly in rural areas where snakebites are frequent.(i) Implementation of programmes to support those people whose snakebites resulted in chronic disabilities. (j) Preventive and educational programmes at the community level, with the active involvement of local organizations and employing modern methods of health promotion. Such an integrated approach, currently being fostered by the Global Snake Bite Initiative of the International Society on Toxinology and by the World Health Organization, will help to alleviate the enormous burden of human suffering inflicted by snakebite envenoming.