Issue brief |

Snakebites slither under the public health radar

An estimated five million people around the world are bitten by venomous snakes every year. Snakebite kills as many as 100,000 people and leads to disability and disfiguration for some 400,000 victims globally each year.

Most of the victims come from remote, rural areas. With no health facilities nearby, and unable to afford expensive treatment, many either forego treatment completely or turn to traditional healers.

Fav-Afrique, produced by French pharmaceutical company Sanofi, is one of the few products able to neutralise the venom of ten snakes across sub-Saharan Africa, and which has proven effective in saving lives. But a dangerous gap in its production could endanger hundreds of thousands of lives.

Snakebite envenoming is an issue that has been neglected for far too long. Global health agencies, donors, governments and pharmaceutical companies need to share responsibility for putting it where it belongs on the global health agenda.