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Initiative for Snakebite Prevention in Odisha


A UK university team is conducting a pilot study in Burujhari village, Odisha, to decrease snakebite deaths by exploring solutions such as an Early Warning System. With India facing the highest number of snakebite fatalities globally, mostly in rural areas, the WHO has classified Snakebite Envenoming as a critical Neglected Tropical Disease since June 2017.


GS II: Health

Dimensions of the Article:

  1. Snakebite Envenoming (SE)
  2. What are Neglected Tropical Diseases (NTD)?
  3. Government’s efforts regarding NTD

Snakebite Envenoming (SE)

  • SE is a grave disease often caused by venom injection from snakebites or venom spray into the eyes.
  • It’s a daily health hazard in rural areas of Africa, Middle East, Asia, Oceania, and Latin America, affecting those dependent on agriculture.

Impact of SE

  • Long-term health issues in survivors, predominantly in developing nations, include physical deformities, kidney issues, and mental health effects.

Mortality Data

  • The WHO reports an annual global mortality of 81,410 to 137,880 due to snakebites.

WHO’s Strategy Against SE

  • In 2019, WHO aimed to reduce snakebite-induced mortality and morbidity by half by 2030.
  • There’s a target for a 25% rise in qualified antivenom producers by 2030.
  • A proposed global antivenom reserve is in the works.
  • National health strategies are being adapted to include snakebite management and community education.

Indian Efforts

  • Preceding WHO’s plans, ICMR initiated community awareness and health infrastructure development in 2013.
  • Aligning with global strategies, India implemented a National Action Plan in 2015 for tackling snakebite hazards.

What are Neglected Tropical Diseases (NTD)?

  • Neglected tropical diseases (NTDs)– a diverse group of communicable diseases that prevail in tropical and subtropical conditions in 149 countries – affect more than one billion people and cost developing economies billions of dollars every year.
  • Populations living in poverty, without adequate sanitation and in close contact with infectious vectors and domestic animals and livestock are those worst affected.
  • Seven of the most common NTDs can be found in a number of countries—primarily in low- and middle-income countries of Africa, Asia, and Latin America.
  • Controlling the vectors (e.g., mosquitoes, black flies) that transmit these diseases and improving basic water, sanitation, and hygiene are highly effective strategies against these NTDs.
  • Examples of NTDs are: snakebite envenomation, scabies, yaws, trachoma, Leishmaniasis and Chagas disease etc.
The NTD Crisis
  • NTDs such as dengue, lymphatic filariasis and visceral leishmaniasis (Kala-Azar) afflict 1 billion people worldwide, and yet, are not prioritised in the public health narrative in many parts of the world.
  • India bears the largest burden of NTDs in the world, accounting for 40 per cent of the global lymphatic filariasis disease burden and almost a quarter of the world’s visceral leishmaniasis cases.

Government’s efforts regarding NTD

  • In recent years, the government has made concerted efforts to address the nation’s NTD burden, especially visceral leishmaniasis and lymphatic filariasis which were slated to be eliminated by 2020 and 2021 respectively.
  • India has already eliminated several other NTDs, including guinea worm, trachoma, and yaws.
  • Measures taken include Mass Drug Administration (MDA) for lymphatic filariasis prevention in endemic districts and Indoor Residual Spraying (IRS) to control the breeding of sandflies that transmit visceral leishmaniasis.
  • The Accelerated Plan for Elimination of Lymphatic Filariasis (APELF) was launched in 2018, as part of intensifying efforts towards the elimination of NTDs.
  • A WHO-supported regional alliance established by the governments of India, Bangladesh, and Nepal in 2005 to expedite early diagnosis and treatment of the most vulnerable populations and improve disease surveillance and control of sandfly populations (Kala-azar).

-Source: Down To Earth

February 2024