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Snakebite Management and Awareness in India



  Feb 26, 2024

Snakebite Management and Awareness in India



1. What recent action has the Karnataka government taken regarding snakebite incidents?

The Karnataka government issued a directive on February 12 to all hospitals and medical colleges in the state to mandatorily record snakebite cases and deaths in the Integrated Health Information Platform (IHIP), following the inclusion of snakebite as a ‘notifiable disease’ under Section 3 of the Karnataka Epidemic Diseases Act, 2020.

2. Why is it important to record snakebite cases and deaths?

Recording snakebite cases and deaths is crucial for getting an accurate picture of the problem, understanding the true scale of snakebites, and designing specific interventions to address them. It also helps in identifying patterns and areas more prone to snakebites, facilitating better preparedness and response.

3. How significant is the snakebite problem in India?

Snakebite is a major public health issue in India, with estimates pointing to about one million snakebites annually, leading to an estimated 58,000 deaths. Victims who suffer significant disability number almost four times the fatalities.

4. What are the challenges in managing snakebite incidents in India?

A significant challenge is the gap between snakebite death estimates in surveys and what’s recorded in official data. Many snakebite cases occur in rural areas where primary health centers may lack the trained human resources and facilities to admit and treat patients. Additionally, a substantial number of patients initially depend on alternate sources of treatment before reaching a modern medical facility.

5. What are the benefits of making snakebite a notifiable disease?

Making snakebite a notifiable disease leads to multiple benefits, including improved data collection, increased awareness, better treatment options, and enhanced training for medical professionals. It also helps in sensitizing medical officers and ASHA workers about precautions and emergency medical care, thereby potentially reducing mortality and morbidity from snakebites.

6. What are the WHO’s goals regarding snakebite?

The World Health Organization (WHO) aims to reduce the mortality and morbidity from snakebite by half by 2030, acknowledging snakebite as a significant public health issue, especially in developing and tropical countries.

7. How is the problem of snakebite being addressed at a research level?

Research efforts include the Indian Council of Medical Research (ICMR) conducting a first-of-its-kind study in India to measure annual incidence, mortality, and treatment costs of snakebites across 14 states. The study aims to provide comprehensive data on snakebite incidence and outcomes, which will be crucial for formulating effective interventions and policies.

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