Death from snakebites have risen to epidemic level, the health organization says
Around 16 people on average die from snakebite every day in Bangladesh, and has become a cause for concern, according to a report by World Health Organization (WHO).
The UN agency on public health revealed the data at a presentation titled “Snakebite envenoming: A strategy of prevention, control and way forward for Bangladesh,” adding that around 6,041 people die annually from snakebite in the country.
The WHO presentation also revealed that around 5.5 million people are bitten by snakes around the world every year, 150,000 of whom die from it.
Jointly organized by WHO’s non-communicable disease control program and the Directorate General of Health Services (DGHS) under the Ministry of Health and Family Welfare, the event was held at Hotel Intercontinental in Dhaka on Thursday.
According to the WHO report, the number of snakebite incidents is higher in rural areas than urban areas.
The majority of snakebite victims are of young age, it further says.
According to the research, 68% of snakebite victims in Bangladesh receive some form of treatment within two hours of getting bitten, but only 3% have directly gone to either a doctor or a hospital.
Health and Family Welfare Minister Zahid Maleque, who attended the program, said many people were dying from snakebite every year, and the issue could no longer be ignored.
“Due to negligence, deforestation and urbanization, people are invading the natural habitats of snakes. Losing their habitats, snakes are entering human environment, which is causing the rise in snakebites,” the health minister said.
“Snakes are an important part of the environment, and killing them will gravely affect the ecology. We have to be careful so we do not destroy the ecological balance,” he further added.
He said if people were not careful, people would not experience snakebites in future, because there would be no snakes due to the lack of their habitat.
The minister said the government had taken initiatives to store antivenom in hospitals at district level, but it was necessary to stock antivenom in upazila health complexes, as the number of people getting bitten by snakes is higher in rural areas.
He also said proper training for doctors and nurses must be ensured so they can use the antivenom properly.
“But, most importantly, people must be made aware so they can avoid getting attacked by snakes,” the minister said.
Health and Family Welfare Secretary Ashadul Islam, DGHS chief Abul Kalam Azad and WHO Representative to Bangladesh Bardan Jung Rana were present at the program, among others.