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30,000 people in Sub-Saharan Africa die of snake bites – MSF

Sep 10, 2015, 9:59 AM

30,000 people die annually of snakebites in Sub-Saharan Africa with a further 8,000 people undergoing amputations, Médecins Sans Frontières (MSF) said on Monday.

The humanitarian organization said the number of victims is likely to rise as existing stockpiles of one of the most effective anti-venoms for sub-Saharan Africa are due to expire in June 2016.

“We are now facing a real crisis so why do governments, pharmaceutical companies and global health bodies slither away when we need them most?” said MSF Snakebite Medical Advisor, Dr Gabriel Alcoba.

According to MSF, Fav-Afrique, produced by French pharmaceutical company Sanofi, is the only anti-venom that has been proven safe and effective to treat envenoming from different types of snakes across Sub-Saharan Africa.

“There are a few alternative similar anti-venom products in Africa, but their effectiveness and safety have not been properly established yet.

“Sanofi ceased production of Fav-Afrique in 2014 and the last batch will expire in June 2016.

“No replacement product will be available for at least another two years, translating into more needless death and disability,” said MSF in a statement issued in Nairobi on Monday.

The World Health Organization (WHO) should play a leading role to tackle snakebite as a public health issue, but is still considering it as a :neglected condition with no formal programme” despite the high mortality levels, said the statement.

MSF sounded the warning ahead of ahead of a major health symposium to take place in Basel, Switzerland on 8 September.

The tropical medicine and international health symposium brings together global health community, donors, governments, and pharmaceutical companies to address global health challenges.Source: apanews