Snakebite envenoming

WHO Executive Board recommends resolution on snakebite envenoming to World Health Assembly

26 January 2018 | Geneva –– The 142nd session of the World Health Organization’s Executive Board has recommended a resolution on snakebite envenoming to the 71st World Health Assembly, setting the scene for its possible adoption in May 2018.

The resolution, sponsored by the governments of Costa Rica and Colombia in consultation with other Member States, civil society and cosponsored by 25 other countries calls on all countries to take definitive steps to stop the death, disability and suffering that snakebite inflicts on many of the poorest and most vulnerable of the world's people.

It also directs the Director-General of the WHO to take parallel actions to deal with all the problems that hinder effective treatment and recovery and provides WHO with a mandate to pursue a programme that will reduce and control the burden of snakebite envenoming worldwide.

A WHO report as noted by the Executive Board prompted a robust discussion by Board members, other Member States and non-State actors who unanimously recommended it for adoption by the 71st World Health Assembly.

The ongoing support of Member States and other organizations will be vital to address the multifactorial challenges that need to be overcome to reduce snakebite deaths, morbidity and disability.

Snake bite is a neglected public health issue in many tropical and subtropical countries.

About 5.4 million snake bites occur each year, resulting in 1.8 to 2.7 million cases of envenomings. There are between 81 410 and 137 880 deaths and around three times as many amputations and other permanent disabilities each year.

Most of these occur in Africa, Asia and Latin America. In Asia up to 2 million people are envenomed by snakes each year, while in Africa there are an estimated 435 000 to 580 000 snake bites annually that need treatment.

Envenoming affects women, children and farmers in poor rural communities in low- and middle-income countries. The highest burden occurs in countries where health systems are weakest and medical resources sparse.

Ashok Moloo
Telephone: +41 22 791 16 37
Mobile phone: +41 79 540 50 86

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