India has close to 300 species of snakes, out of which 66 have been identified as venomous & semi venomous. With a large number of annual fatalities, India is considered the “death by snakebite “capital of the world.
The “Snakebite Mortality Survey”(Mohapatra 2011) estimated that a whopping 45,900 people died each year of snakebites in India. The actual mortality rate could be far greater than the estimated figure from the survey because it is practically impossible to accurately determine the number of people who were bitten by venomous snakes and died without or during treatment. There is also another facet to this issue. There are a far larger number of people who are saved after being bitten by a venomous snake but suffer permanent morbidity due to amputation or deformity of the affected area. The extent of malaise due to a venomous snakebite in India is staggering.
The impact of the problem is more evident and severe in the rural parts of India, where farm laborers come in contact with snakes and medical facilities are limited.Local hospitals, clinics and care centers find anti-snake venom (ASV) difficult to procure. Limited supply of ASV adds to the demand and the distributors sell this life saving drug at an inflated price. Other significant challenges include a lack of specialized training and community outreach programs to educate the population.
Snakebite Healing and Education Society (SHE) has been founded to address all the above mentioned concerns by engaging experts from different fields. Snakebite expert doctors, Human Rights activists, Scientists, Herpetologists, Lawyers, NGO partners and administrators all form a part of the advisory board and shall help spur this issue into a movement with a unified voice.