Providing antivenom treatment access to all Brazilian Amazon indigenous areas: ‘every life has equal value’

Snakebites are more frequent in the Brazilian Amazon than in other parts of Brazil, representing a high cost for the health system since antivenoms are only available through medical prescription from central municipal hospitals in most cases. The need for a cold chain and physicians usually restricts access to the only effective treatment of a snakebite, the antivenom. The complex topography of the rivers contributes to delays in treatment, and consequently increases the risk of severe complications, chronic sequelae and death. Thus, decentralization of antivenom treatment to primary healthcare facilities in the interior would increase access by indigenous population groups to proper healthcare. To standardize and evaluate the decentralization to low complexity indigenous healthcare units, we suggest the (i) development and validation of standardized operational procedures, (ii) training of professionals in the validated protocol in a referral health unit, (iii) implementation of the protocol in an indigenous healthcare unit, (iv) assessment of perceptions towards and acceptability of the protocol, and (v) estimation of the impact of the protocol’s implementation. We expect that antivenom decentralization would shorten the time between diagnosis and treatment and, as such, improve the prognosis of snakebites. As health cosmology among indigenous populations has an important role in maintaining their way of life, the introduction of a new therapeutic strategy to their customs must take into account the beliefs of these peoples. Thus, antivenom administration would be inserted as a crucial therapeutic tool in a world of diverse social, natural and supernatural representations. The information presented here also serves as a basis to advocate for support and promotion of health policy initiatives focused on evidence-based care in snakebite management
snakebite;  Antivenom;  indigenous groups;  health service;  health decentralization

Document type
Monteiro WM, Farias AS, Val F, Silva Neto AV, Sachett A, Lacerda M, et al. Providing antivenom treatment access to all Brazilian Amazon indigenous areas: ‘every life has equal value’. Toxins. 2020 Dec;12(12):772. doi:10.3390/toxins12120772.
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