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Snakebite deaths 'one of the world's biggest hidden health crises'

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By Euronews
Snakebite deaths 'one of the world's biggest hidden health crises'

The death toll from snakebites is one of the world's biggest hidden health crises, according to Britain's Wellcome charity.

They kill more than 120,000 people a year and leave another 400,000 with life-changing disabilities, particularly in Africa and Asia.

The charity says the world produces less than half of the anti-venom it needs and that it would spend €90 million on research to improve treatments.

"We particularly get snakebite in Africa and Asia, where we have some of the most vulnerable populations exposed to snakes, particularly in occupations like agriculture and obviously they have poor access to healthcare and poor access to treatment," Dr Philip Price, the snakebites science lead at Wellcome, told Euronews.

"It’s partly to do with access to actual healthcare, so if they’re typically more than six hours away from the nearest hospital, quite often they get there, they will not have an anti-venom available. If that anti-venom is available, it’s not necessarily one that particularly works very well or works very safe because anti-venom itself is based on technology that’s over a 100 years old and it’s not really been updated in that time.

“It requires the injection of venom into horses and so it’s essentially a horse-derived protein that you’re injecting into a person so it’s a multi-factorial issue. It’s something that Wellcome is hoping to address with this new initiative.”

Watch the full interview in the player above.