Snake bites declared the ‘world’s’ hidden health crisis

Snakes bites are thought to kill up to 138,000 people each year, with experts calling them ‘the world’s biggest hidden health crisis’.

Although treatable, antivenom drugs are expensive, leaving people living in underdeveloped countries at risk.

Millions of pounds is being invested into treatments that will improve survival rates for people bitten by venomous snakes.

Treatment has progressed little in the last century, and is too rarely accessible, safe and effective in the places where it is needed the most.

Charity Wellcome is investing around $102m(Ksh 102,000,000) into a programme that aims to make antivenom medication cheaper, safer and more effective.

Professor Mike Turner, director of science at the Wellcome Trust, said: ‘Snakebite is or should be a treatable condition’.

There has been almost no investment in snakebite research over the last decade  but it’s also one that is solvable with support from WHO [World Health Organization], national governments, industry and other funders.




Baringo County holds forums to address upsurge of snake bites

Owing to upsurge cases of snake bites Baringo County health department of health has rolled out awareness programme to address the menace.


County Chief Officer for Public Health Winnie Bore led the sensitization forums at AIC Church Poi in Saimo-Kipsaraman ward, Baringo North on Thursday.


“The programme is intended to keep locals informed on how they would reduce the cases of snake bites and handle the situation once someone falls victims” Bore said.


So far at least 140 people including school children have been killed by snakebites up to December 2017.


This is according to Gilbert nature- a Non-Governmental Organization dealing with wildlife who said a number of victims have also become physically challenged.

More than 40 victims are currently admitted to health centres in Tiaty, Baringo South, Mogotio, Baringo North and Baringo central sub-counties respectively.

However, the forum saw over 500 residents trained and given basic skills on how to lessen the chances of being bitten by snakes and also first aid methods. Dr Bore estimated that 300-500 people are bitten by Snakes monthly in Baringo.

She added that as a department they will increase the number of health workers working in snake prone regions so that they can be in a Position to respond to such incidences in good time.


“Poi has the highest cases of Snake bites in the entire County with nearly every family having been affected” she said


At the same time, she also revealed that there are also plans to purchase motorbikes which will be stationed in health facilities which have recorded a huge number of snake bite cases.


“We have also managed to train our health workers on how to administer anti-snake venom drugs on patients to avert incidences which might have prevented” she said adding that all health facilities in snake prone areas have been stocked with the drugs.


“This means that any victim of snakebite can be treated with the drugs since it was manufactured from venom collected from different snakes” he said.


Representatives from the Kenya Wild Services were also present and they took the residents through ways to follow when they are following up for compensations.


However, locals complained that the process of Compensation was like a pipedream for them since not even a single victim of snakebite has been compensated in the area since time immemorial.


Reuben Kisang a resident and also a victim of snake bite expressed optimism that there will be a reduction in the incidences.


Saimo Kipsaraman ward MCA John Aengwo said that there was need to bring on board all stakeholders so that they can sensitize locals on how to deal with venomous snakes.


He further urged the county government to deploy more health staff in the area to help combat the rising cases of Snake bites.


300-500 Patients Hospitalized Monthly Due To Snake Bites In Kenya – Survey

Approximately 300-500 people are admitted every month in Kenyan hospitals due to snake bites, survey carried by a Non-Governmental Organization (NGO) has shown.

Between 15 to 25 people lose their lives every day at different degrees while over 100 are being amputated causing them permanent disabilities.

This is according to research by the Snake Bite Rescue Rehabilitation and Research Centre Kenya (SNABIRC).

Addressing Media in Kabarnet town, Baringo County on Tuesday, the organization founder Dr Winnie Bore said Snakebite is a serious public health problem that affects majority people in dry areas especially in Baringo, Eastern and North Eastern parts of Kenya.

Dr Bore said the organization has worked around and carried statistics in the five counties within the above regions since 2015.

“The menace of snakebites has not been taken seriously by the government and people are really suffering on the ground especially at the snakebite hot spots” said Ms Bore.

She said estimated 33.3 percent of the patients lose their lives and the rest will become disabled at different degrees, approximately 5 percent will require amputation.

Spot check by Snabirc-Kenya revealed that availability of anti-venom has been a big challenge in many areas and the drugs miss out in most health facilities.

In the few available facilities, Dr Bore said the drugs potency towards the snake species found in the particular geographical area is not guaranteed.

Dr Bore further claim the victims experience challenges accessing the treatment centers saying the patients have to travel at least 30 to 50 kilometers to get to a well equipped facility.

“Most bites occur at night and getting quick transport to the health facility is not easy, bearing in mind that snake venom can cause death in 15 minutes to half hour if treatment is not promptly initiated” she said.