Snakebite remains a major public health challenge in many parts of rural Africa, Asia and South America. Available estimates suggest that there are about 94 000 deaths across the world annually due to snakebites; a conservative estimate as many deaths in low and middle-income countries are not reported.The burden on health systems due to snakebite is much higher than what is indicated by the mortality, because even non-venomous snakebite victims visit healthcare facilities for assessment and the morbidity due to snakebite has been scarcely documented. The social and economic consequences of snakebite are known to be high in communities with high prevalence.
Despite its consequences, snakebite has largely been neglected in global health. The WHO readded snakebite to the list of neglected tropical diseases in 2017—potentially implying more attention and funding for disease control programmes and treatment access initiatives. Such initiatives and programme planning are informed by recommendations in practice guidelines. WHO guidelines are highly influential in South Asia, South-East Asia and sub-Saharan Africa (countries with high burden of snakebite) where the lack of in-country capacity for guideline development means WHO guidelines are used as it is or are being adapted .
Read the full article by Dr. Soumyadeep B and colleagues which presents the evaluation of WHO guidelines on snakebite at BMJ Global Health. (open access)