Small Grants Scheme

The Global Snakebite Initiative, with generous financial support from CSL Limited is currently funding 5 small research projects with US$2,000 grants awarded after a competitive call for expressions of interest in 2011.

The GSI Small Grants Scheme is designed to stimulate young researchers and clinicians in developing nations to become actively involved in snake bite prevention, treatment, rehabilitation and both epidemiological and clinical research. The scheme provides five  awards of USD$2000 to candidates whose project proposals are ranked highest among all of the applications received. Recipients of awards will be mentored throughout the duration of their projects by volunteer advisors affiliated with the Global Snakebite Initiative, and will be required to publish either a research paper or a report about their project.

Eligibility: Only applicants who are legal residents of countries listed by the International Monetary Fund (IMF) as Emerging or Developing Economies are eligible to apply (Appendix 1). Preference will be given to early career clinicians, research scientists, public health promoters and biologists.

Strategic Focus: Grants will be offered to support projects which involve any of the following themes:

  • Basic epidemiological or clinical research
  • Snake bite prevention projects
  • Snake bite-related public health promotion activities or community awareness projects
  • Primary first aid training and education
  • Clinical training in snake bite treatment and/or seminars or conferences about snake bite
  • Injury rehabilitation for snake bite patients

Grants: Five (5) grants of USD$2,000.

Duration of funding: Grants are offered for projects with a duration of up to twelve (12) calendar months.

Restrictions: Funding may not be used for the payment of institutional administrative fees or overheads, or for the payment of staff salaries or student stipends. Funding must be for a project that will be carried out in the applicant’s country of residence. All applications must be made through either an institution (University, College, Research Institute, Government body, etc) or a recognised non-governmental organisation. Funds will not be paid to individuals without a sponsor organisation.

Ethics: All research involving animals must have the approval of the applicant’s institutional Animal Ethics Committee. Research involving human subjects must have the approval of the relevant institutional or national Human Ethics Committee.

Permits and Licenses: Where any other permit, license or approval is required, the applicant must provide proof of this prior to the commencement of the project.

INAUGURAL AWARDEES

BANGLADESH 

Survey on events due to sea snake bite and related death among Bangladeshi fisherman in bay of Bengal: Pilot study

Dr Rabiul Alam Md. Erfan Uddin, Dr. Syed Md. Jabed, Dr Aniruddha Ghose
Chittagong Medical College Hospital, Bangladesh

Sea snakes are venomous elapid snakes that inhabit marine environments, and are the most abundant and widely dispersed group of venomous reptiles in the world. They comprise approximately 70 species, 50 of which are members of the family Hydrophiidae. A large group of people are engaged with marine fishing in Bay of Bengal. During fishing they have to face many occupational hazards including snake bite. But the true incidence of these events is not known. There are very few published report. Occasionally patients are brought to Chittagong Medical College Hospital but no venomous bite has ever been recorded. Information from those victims indicates that the patients of sea snake bites are usually not taken to any health facility. These events take place while the fishing boats are at the deep sea and there is no way to bring back the victim to shore without abandoning the fishing voyage which will cost the whole investment for the tour. So the victims are left to their fate and the ‘healing power’ of the traditional healers who accompany the
fishermen at sea. The description of few clinical events by some of the fishermen fits to scenario produced by neurotoxic envenomation. Currently Bangladesh National Guidelines for Management of Snake Bites does not cover the area of sea snake bite and its management as there is no available epidemiological and clinical data. The recent epidemiological survey on snake bite (land snake) in rural Bangladesh has reported a much higher incidence than previously predicted. An epidemiological and clinical study will be conducted among selected groups of Bangladeshi fishermen fishing in Bay of Bengal to get an idea about events due to sea snake bites and related clinical outcome. We
will also try to formulate an awareness program regarding preventive measures to the fishermen.

NEPAL

Knowledge, attitude and practice among medical graduates on snakebite management

Dr Saru Devkota, Dr Anup Ghimire, Dr Sanjib Sharma
B. P. Koirala Institute of Health Sciences, Nepal

This project aims at assessing the knowledge, attitudes and clinical practice of medical graduates working in snakebite affected Terai (plain) region of eastern Nepal. One hundred Medical graduates working at zonal/district hospital and primary health centres (various primary contact points for the snakebite victims) in snakebite affected areas of Terai of Eastern Nepal will be interviewed using structured and semi-structured questions to obtain data. This study will identify the knowledge and practice gaps in doctors treating snakebite victims. Thus this study is expected to shed light on the existing knowledge and practice of snakebite management in Nepal thereby opening windows for interventions to improve the outcomes of snakebite management.

SRI LANKA

Prevention of Krait bites by promotion of sleeping above ground level and bednet use

Dr Chaturaka Rodrigo, Dr. Ariaranee Gnanathasan
Department of Clinical Medicine, Faculty of Medicine, University of Colombo, Sri Lanka

Krait bites are a common occurrence and a major cause of morbidity and mortality in the North‐Central and Northern provinces of the country. After the end of the war between the LTTE and the Government of Sri Lanka, many civilians are resettling in these areas which have led to an increase in the incidence of krait bites. Krait bites are deadly as the venom contains neurotoxins that cause respiratory failure and death. Previous epidemiological studies in Sri Lanka have shown a distinct pattern of krait bites among victims. They occur predominantly at night and when the victim is asleep. Kraits are nocturnal snakes and
most victims are bitten accidentally at night as they sleep on the floor (on mats). Therefore, theoretically, a low cost preventive measure would be to promote sleeping above ground level (at least 1 foot above ground) in bunker beds, hammocks or any other form of low cost beds. In addition, using mosquito nets with its edges tucked under the mattress will further form a protective barrier between the snake and the potential victim. Using mosquito nets will have the additional advantage of preventing malaria which is also prevalent in the same areas. This study will focus on reducing the incidence of krait bites by reducing the human‐snake contact by promotion of sleeping above ground level
and using mosquito nets.

PAPUA NEW GUINEA

A prospective study of death adder (Acanthophis laevis) envenoming in the North Fly region of Western Province.

Mr Owen Paiva, Dr Adeline Sitther, Dr Daniel Priest, Dr Sharon Brandon
School of Medicine & Health Sciences, University of PNG, and Rumginae Rural Hospital, Papua New Guinea

There are only a few published reports of smooth‐scaled death adder (Acanthophis laevis) envenoming in Papua New Guinea, despite the fact that these small snakes are among the most widely distributed and abundant venomous species in New Guinea. Rumginae Hospital in the North Fly Region of Western Province, Papua New Guinea is a mission health facility which admits 30‐40 cases of death adder envenoming each year. This project will prospectively collect data from patients admitted to the hospital with a presumptive diagnosis of death adder envenoming, as a means of building our knowledge of the clinical syndrome of death adder bites in this part of PNG, and to objectively evaluate the success or otherwise of conventional treatments (antivenom, anticholinesterases and airway or respiratory support). We will collect serum and plasma samples from patients and submit these for laboratory assessment of coagulation, blood factor levels and various enzyme levels (CK, LDH, troponin I, liver enzymes, etc). We will also use venom from death adders collected near Rumginae in mouse LD50 assays to determine venom
toxicity, and with antivenom in ED50 assays to determine the potency of current antivenoms against the death adders from this area. We expect that the data we obtain will enable us to develop an optimised protocol for the treatment of death adder envenoming in this part of PNG, and expect that this single‐site pilot project might subsequently be expanded to other parts of the country.

NIGERIA

Testing protocols to improve treatment and epidemiology of snakebite in rural Nigeria

Dr Abdulrazaq Habib, Dr Saidu Balla Abubakar
EchiTAb Study Group, Kaltungo General Hospital, Nigeria

Over the past 20 years the EchiTAb Study Group (a collaboration between the Federal
Ministry of Health, Universities of Oxford and Liverpool and antivenom manufacturers in UK
and Costa Rica) has acquired considerable experience and expertise in the clinical
management of snakebite victims attending hospitals in Gombe (Kaltungo) and Plateau
(Zamko) states. We are aware that the medical needs of snakebite victims in other regions of Nigeria are not as well served. This proposal exploits the expertise and systems established by the EchiTAb Study group to test new training and data collection systems to (i) improve the clinical management of these rural poor communities and (ii) serve to acquire disease-burden and therapeutic-need data. This essential information will be presented to the Nigerian Ministry of Health with a view to implementing nationwide strategies to manage snakebite.

FUNDED BY

FUTURE FUNDING ROUNDS

The Global Snakebite Initiative intends to annouce a second round of grants under this scheme in early 2013. Application forms, guidelines and eligibility requirements will be annouced via the GSI website in January 2013.