Giving Compass' Take:

• Brian W. Simpson explains the World Health Organization's strategy for reducing mortality from snakebites which kill 81,000 to 138,000 people every year. 

• How can funders work with NGOs and governments to address snakebites? 

• Read about government efforts to address snakebites


Start the clock. After 24 hours, some 7,400 people will have been bitten by snakes, and 220 to 380 of them will die.

That means 81,000 to 138,000 deaths every year. And 400,000 serious injuries such as amputations. But those are just estimates. No one knows how many people are bitten by snakes and or how many die each year. Farmers in their fields, children playing outside, women sleeping in their homes… 5.8 billion people are at risk of coming across a venomous snake.

Long recognized as a threat to health yet under-prioritized for just as long, snakebite envenoming has recently surged in prominence on the global health agenda. After a resolution at last year’s World Health Assembly, the WHO added snakebite envenoming to its list of neglected tropical diseases and began developing a strategy against it. (WHO defines snakebite envenoming as the potentially life-threatening disease that follows the injection of toxins from a venomous snake bite.)

The strategy seeks to halve snakebite deaths and morbidity by 2030.

Then the Wellcome Trust stepped up to support the strategy with a $100 million investment announced on May 16. (The funding was deemed “very, very welcome” by Mwelecele Ntuli Malecela, director of WHO’s Department of Control of Neglected Tropical Diseases,” in her keynote address.”)

The WHO officially launched the strategy during the World Health Assembly. At the event, many of the ambassadors, ministers of health and experts from within and outside the WHO shared in what seemed to be genuinely giddy excitement.

Read the full article about WHO’s snakebite strategy by Brian W. Simpson at Global Health NOW.