You know that if a venomous snake bit you, you could easily die. There are about 5 million cases of snakebites every year and around 100,000 deaths associated to it. About 400,000 people remain disabled, having the affected limb removed after the bite.
Fortunately, there is a cure for the snakebite – the anti-venom. The bad news is that hospitals are running very short of it.
According to the independent, medical humanitarian organization Médecins Sans Frontières (MSF), this area is largely neglected and the supplies of the Fay-Afrique anti-venom are only going to last until June 2016.
The worst news is that another antidote will not become available in the next two years, which might mean that thousands of lives can be lost due to snakebites. This situation is caused by the fact that Sanofi Pasteur was taken down by other companies which produced cheaper antidotes and stopped making the anti-venom, after announcing their decision in 2010.
Sanofi Pasteur produced Fay-Afrique, av ery effective anti-venom. Now the pharmaceutical company is focusing on a rabies treatment. Rumors say they might be able to start producing Fay-Afrique again after new negotiations are carried out.
“We are now facing a real crisis, so why do governments, pharmaceutical companies, and global health bodies walk away when we need them most?” asked Gabriel Alcoba, who is a snakebite medical advisor working for Médecins Sans Frontières.
He also explained that if the anti-venom becomes available again, its costs will vary from $ 250 to $500 per victim. In underdeveloped countries, where these cases occur very frequently, this sum represents four years of salary for a person.
MSF has asked the World Health Organization to start being in charge of solving the problem and brought criticism to the UN health agency because they decided to regard snakebites as a neglecting condition. Moreover, major organizations like this one have not done anything to solve the problem that could lead to the deaths of so many people.
“Most people who get bitten by a snake aren’t exactly sure what kind of snake it is that bit them and so having an anti-venom that works against a variety of different species is really important,” said a representative of MSF.
Representatives of the World Health Organization (WHO) said that their people are already working on the matter, but unfortunately, there are very few donors who are interested.
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