'Snakebite-caused disability major concern'

New Delhi, Dec 4 (IANS): Union Minister of State for Social Justice and Empowerment Ramdas Athawale has said around 58,000 people die every year in India due to snakebite, adding "this grave issue needs special emphasis from the government".

Every year in India, snakebites cause disabilities in four out of five persons in every five minutes, causing a huge disease burden that often gets underestimated and neglected.

"From 2000 to 2019, 1.2 million people died due to the snakebite, whereas, in India approximately 58,000 people die every year due to snakebite. This grave issue needs special emphasis from the government," Athawale said on Friday on the occasion of International Day of Persons with Disabilities.

He said that the new technologies need to be invented to deal with the snakebite, and locals taking out the venom should be encouraged. "A new policy should be made to deal with this health crisis due to the snakebite."

Underlining the need for strengthening the infrastructure of the primary healthcare centres, Urvashi Prasad, Director, DMEO, Niti Aayog, said: "We need to put our emphasis on the primary care. We need to strengthen our infrastructure part and not just the physical infrastructure but actually the human resource capabilities that we have."

Highlighting the lesser-known chronic aspects of disability due to snakebite, Dr. Maya Gopalkrishnan, Assistant Professor, Department of Medicine, AIIMS, Jodhpur, said: "Prevention of disabilities is more important and trying to address these disabilities is more difficult. Snakebite can produce multiple disabilities of various organ systems. These kinds of disabilities can lead to kidney disease. Around 25-30 per cent are going through acute kidney injury besides blindness."

"Disability is not being addressed as part of the snakebite agenda in any country of the world. We need to recognize the fact that disability is perhaps the more important outcome in snakebite envenoming than death itself," said Dr David Williams, Technical Officer (Antivenoms) vaccines, WHO.

However, Chetan Raj Singh, Vice President-Critical Care & Emergency Medical, Bharat Serums & Vaccines Limited, underlined that there is no dearth of anti-venom medicines in India but the trained doctors.



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