Rural Africa is about to run out of one of their most commonly needed and used stockpiles: snakebite anti-venom.
According to Nature.com the continent is about to run out of its antivenom supplies which are used against the continent’s mass of vipers, mambas and cobras. Apparently this is because only one company makes the medicine and it has now stopped production. If another manufacturer cannot be found soon, the supplies will run out by June 2016.
With no adequate replacement in sight, the death toll from snakebites looks set to rise, warned specialists fromMédecins Sans Frontières at the tropical-medicine congress last week in Basel, Switzerland.
“We’re dealing with a neglected health crisis that is turning into a tragedy for Africa,” says Gabriel Alcoba, a medical adviser with MSF (also known as Doctors Without Borders).
Poisonous snakebites kill more than 100,000 people worldwide every year (see ‘Death toll’) — more, on average, than lose their lives in natural disasters. And survivors often experience permanent physical and mental disabilities.
According to Médecins Sans Frontières an estimated 30,000 people die each year and at least 8,000 more undergo amputations across Africa.
The global-health community seems to have sat up and are starting to grasp the urgency of the situation. “People used to laugh when we talked about snakebites,” says Alcoba. “They don’t laugh any more.”
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photo Zoltan Tacaks