Strategy for a globally coordinated response to a priority neglected tropical disease: snakebite envenoming

In one of his final essays, statesman and former United Nations secretary general Kofi Annan said, ‘Snakebite is the most important tropical disease you’ve never heard of’. Mr. Annan firmly believed that victims of snakebite envenoming should be recognised and afforded greater efforts at improved prevention, treatment, and rehabilitation. During the last years of his life, he advocated strongly for the World Health Organisation (WHO) and the global community to give greater priority to this disease of poverty and its victims. Snakebite envenoming (SBE) affects as many as 2.7 million people every year, most of whom live in some of the world’s most remote, poorly developed, and politically marginalised tropical communities. With annual mortality of 81,000 to 138,000 and 400,000 surviving victims suffering permanent physical and psychological disabilities, SBE is a disease in urgent need of attention. Like many diseases of poverty, SBE has failed to attract requisite public health policy inclusion and investment for driving sustainable efforts to reduce the medical and societal burden. This is largely due to the demographics of the affected populations and their lack of political voice.

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Williams DJ., Faiz MA, Abela-Ridder B, Ainsworth S, Bulfone TC., Nickerson AD., et al. Strategy for a globally coordinated response to a priority neglected tropical disease: snakebite envenoming. Plos Neglect. Trop. Dis.. 2019 Feb;13(2):e0007059. doi:10.1371/journal.pntd.0007059.
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