The Global Snakebite Initiative is working with partners and collaborators to develop projects that will save lives and reduce the burden of human suffering caused by the bites of venomous snakes.
The greatest impact of snakebite is upon the rural poor in many of the world’s least developed nations. People who are without a political voice, who are often socially marginalised, and who live in regions with the lowest levels of socio-economic development, particularly when it comes to basic health care.
In these settings snakebite can be devastating. Young people and children are often the victims. Death is a common outcome, but in many parts of the world, snakebite leads to shocking, life-long disfigurement, amputation and disability, that robs people of productive lives and good health, causes social stigmatisation and condemns whole families to lives of poverty.
Among the current GSI projects are:
We are raising funds to buy life-saving antivenoms for snakebite victims in the James Ashe Antivenom Trust in Kenya and for the AntivenomSwazi Foundation in Swaziland. In parallel we are launching an ambitious project in collaboration with research groups in Spain, Costa Rica, Australia and the United Kingdom that aims to develop a new Pan-African polyvalent antivenom with improved effectiveness and safety for use throughout Sub-Saharan Africa. We plan to clinically trial the new antivenom within 5 years, and to take it through to standardised multi-licensee production with the aim of securing donor funding so that this life-saving medicine can be provided to victims of snakebite free of cost.
Funded by Australian company, CSL Limited, we have awarded 5 small research grants to scientists and doctors in Bangladesh, Nepal, Nigeria, Papua New Guinea and Sri Lanka.
GSI is providing expert scientific and medical advice to enable the Centre for Herpetology at the Madras Crocodile Bank in India to undertake the first ever comprehensive study of Indian snake antivenom effectiveness against the venoms of medically important Indian snakes.
Socio-Economic Impacts of Snakebite
We are helping the Church World Service to investigate the socio-economic effects of snakebites on communities in Myanmar. There are estimates of snakebite mortality in Myanmar ranging from 1,000-8,000 deaths per year, and many more are left disabled and unable to work, or function normally in society. Many social and cultural issues play a role in treatment seeking behaviour, but the impacts on communities are poorly understood. The Asia-Pacific division of the CWS is working in Myanmar to better understand these issues.