The Honourable Minister of Health, Dr. Osagie Ehanire has described as “unfortunate” that Nigeria ranks among the World’s worst snakebite-affected countries, reaching epidemic proportions. By the records the Honourable Minister reeled out, Nigeria records an average of 20, 000 cases of snakebite every year with about 2, 000 people killed and between 1,700 and 2, 000 people whose leg or arm is amputated to save their lives after snakebite.
With this frightening statistics, the Honourable Minister recommended cooperation between academia, industry, public and private institutions for innovation and modernization to ensure the production and quality of snakebite treatments that is internationally accepted.
Dr. Osagie Ehanire was speaking during the commemoration event of the 2020 International Snakebite Day marked Thursday, 24th September, 2020 with a press briefing to create awareness for citizens.
The 2020 International Snakebite Day has the theme: “Ensuring Safe and Effective Treatment.”
The Minister stated that Snakebite poisoning known scientifically as 'envenomation' has been a public health problem in the world and in Nigeria for centuries, especially in rural areas.
Dr. Ehanire identified three main snake species are responsible for envenomation in Nigeria: the Cobra or Najanigricolis, the Puff Adder or Bitisarietans and the Carpet Viper or Echisocellatus. The Carpet Viper, he said is responsible for about 90% of bites and 60% of snakebite deaths.
He informed that about 5 million people are estimated to be bitten by snakes around the world every year, with up to 2.5 million people suffering envenomation. At least 100,000 of the victims lose their lives to these bites and up to 300,000 eventually suffer amputation or other permanent disability. About 1 million of the snakebites occur in Africa yearly with half of them requiring treatment.
The Honourable Minister of Health further disclosed that “About 20,000 snakebite victims are recorded every year, often rural women, children, peasant farmers, herdsmen and hunters (who) get beaten during planting and harvest season.” He added that States with the highest number of cases of snakebite in Nigeria are Adamawa, Bauchi, Benue, Borno, Enugu, Gombe, Kebbi, Kogi, Nasarawa, Oyo, Plateau, and Taraba. “Snakebite cases have increased recently due to excessive rainfall, and it leads to increased morbidity and mortality as a result of limited availability of antismoke-venom.”
The Minister revealed that the Snakebite Envenoming Programme of the Neglected Tropical Diseases Division in the Department Public Health, Federal Ministry of Health (FMoH), is marking this 2nd edition of the International Snakebite Awareness Day 2020 with the theme “Snakebite Envenoming: Ensuring safe and effective treatment”. Which is geared towards ensuring safety, effectiveness and efficiency in the treatment and management of snakebite patients adding that the health sector must foster a stable, sustainable market for safe, effective anti-venom at reasonable cost; ensure access to treatment; and ensure the production and quality of snakebite treatments that is internationally accepted through cooperation between academia, industry, public and private institutions for innovation and modernization.
By Grace Anyanwu