WHO Highlights Shortages of Antivenin
Saying at least 100,000 people die from snakebites each year, the World Health Organization last week published new guidelines for producing, regulating, and controlling antivenins and a helpful online database about dangerous snakes.
Many countries face a shortage of antivenin, the venom-derived drugs that can save someone who has been bitten by a poisonous snake, according to the World Health Organization, which prefers the word antivenom. WHO issued new guidelines May 4 for producing, regulating, and controlling antivenins and also created an online database about them and the world's dangerous snakes.
"Many countries have no access to the antivenoms they need. Others use antivenoms that have never been tested against their target snake venoms. So often when people get bitten, they can't get the treatment they need. These new tools will help bring this to an end," said Carissa Etienne, WHO's assistant director-general.
WHO said an estimated 5 million people are bitten each year. Beyond causing at least 100,000 deaths, these bites cause around 300,000 amputations and other permanent disabilities per year. Most victims are women, children, and farmers living in poor rural communities where medical resources are scarce, according to WHO, which hopes the guidelines will help public health officials create national public health policies; national medicine regulators prioritize antivenins; health care professionals do a better job of treating snakebites; and antivenin manufacturers plan for production and sale of appropriate antivenins.