WHO Takes up Antivenom Access

What makes snakebites—which permanently disable hundreds of thousands and kill 100,000-plus people annually—especially tragic? Highly effective antivenom treatments exist, just not for everyone.

People in sub-Saharan Africa, where snakebites kill 20,000 every year, suffer disportionately. Antivenom is often out of reach, especially for rural residents, who sometimes settle for questionable, substandard treatment.

The good news is that the WHO is paying attention: A proposed resolution on snakebites is on the provisional agenda of the WHO Executive Board meeting that began today in Geneva (see the live webcast here). The resolution outlines steps to improve antivenom access, in part by phasing out substandard antivenom and increasing the number of African suppliers.

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