Snake bites soar in Africa amid calls to increase antivenom

2019-04-14 19:40:17

Campaigners are pushing Africa’s antivenom shortage to be treated as a public health crisis, amid a boost in snake bites on the continent.

Africa boasts some of the world’s deadliest snakes, yet it has an alarming shortage of the life-saving snakebite treatment.

The continent sees about half a million snakebites that need treatment every year, according to the World Health Organization (WHO).

Snake antivenoms have been around for 125 years, are effective and can be produced cheaply at scale.

However, the method of antivenom production remains a painstaking, time-consuming process. Researchers are working to develop synthetic alternatives.

Experts and campaigners blame a combination of weak production capacity, feeble policy and oversight, high prices and a general lack of concern for the plight of people in poor, remote areas of the world.