Monday, June 13, 2016 — Dear media colleagues,
You will recall Doctors Without Borders (MSF) raising alarm in September 2015 about snakebites as being a major killer and while the world’s health community remains trapped in in-action, thousands of people continue to die or risk permanent disability.
Every year 5 million people are bitten by snakes worldwide with 1 in 10 risking death or permanent disability. Of these, about 30 000 people in Sub-Saharan Africa die from snakebite – roughly the equivalent of the number of deaths from meningitis annually.
We also warned that the only proven safe and effective antivenom to treat snakebites from different types of snakes across Sub-Saharan Africa, Fav-Afrique, will soon be unavailable as the last batch expires at the end of this month. Fav Afrique is produced by a French pharmaceutical company Sanofi.
Now, just 17 days from expiry, MSF once again calls for action to tackle snakebite as a global health emergency instead of a lingering neglected public health issue it remains today.
At MSF, we will have to adapt the way we treat our patients once the FAV-Afrique expires, but we are uncertain what impact the treatment will have.
We are calling on governments and health bodies to provide safe, effective and affordable treatments urgently since treatment is very costly and not available to those who need it most.
For snakebite victims in South Sudan like Nyekuony (35) and Nyajinma (6), getting treatment remains a struggle and this is just symptomatic of a wide crisis. It can cost up to US$250 (R3,796) to treat one patient from a snakebite - an equivalent of two years’ salary for some people.
Today we share with you Nyekuony and Nyajinma’s stories to highlight the urgency of the situation and show what many people grapple with in order to access treatment for this neglected health condition.
- Please find some PHOTOS
- WATCH this 2 minute VcIDEO to understand the dilemma: https://youtu.be/fbT10-nYKQc
- You can also read MSF’s oral presentations from 2015 snakebite symposium over here: http://bit.ly/1K1w5Q1