Images of India : Snakes kill over 50,000 every year…

SnakesRoughly over 50,000 people die of snakebites in India every year, according to the American Society of Tropical Medicine and Hygiene, accounting for nearly half of the 100,000 annual snakebite deaths the world over. But most of these deaths are entirely avoidable. The infrastructure to deal quickly and effectively with snakebites is often inadequate in rural areas. Roads to the nearest hospital may be bad or non-existent, so ambulances may struggle to get victims to health centres. In remote hospitals, stocks of anti-venom can run low. Also awareness is low. In villages where snakes are common visitors, victims tend to ignore bites, presuming they were bitten by non-venomous snakes. Often, they turn to faith healers or local medicine men instead of seeking prompt medical treatment. Snakebite is not a medical enigma. Anti-venom, administered at the right time, is sufficient to negate the effects of the bite. Polyvalent anti-venoms can neutralise the effects of venom from multiple species of snakes. India also faces a shortage of anti-venom and lacks distribution. The ability to get anti-venom on to the shelves of every government health centre and hospital in the country, particularly in rural areas. Anti-venom needs to be stored in refrigerators, but power supply is erratic, especially in rural areas.