WHO/AFRO Issues Guidelines for the Prevention and Clinical Management of Snakebite in Africa


edm_snakebite_guidelines_1The WHO Regional Office for Africa (WHO/AFRO) this month (July 2010) issued the second edition of its guidelines on the prevention and clinical management of snakebite in Africa.

The Guidelines for the prevention and clinical management of snakebite in Africa, developed by WHO/AFRO with contributions from technical experts, are meant to assist health workers to improve medical care for snakebite victims and also serve as a source of information for the general public on issues related to snakes and snakebite.

The guidelines discuss, among other things, snakes, snake venoms and snakebites and their consequences with emphasis on the medically important snakes i.e. those causing serious envenoming. The volume contains over a hundred snake photographs,  information on clinical signs of envenoming and its consequences It also  features various annexes, and in particular, the geographical distribution of African venomous snakes, as well as their classification, habitats and clinical toxinology.

Snakebite is a neglected public health problem mainly affecting rural populations who are frequent victims as they go about their daily food production and animal rearing activities and as they reside in the comfort of their homes. Unfortunately, many of these snakebite cases go unreported and thus do not appear in official epidemiological statistics. Health workers often have little or no formal training in the management of snakebite, and appropriate antivenom is rarely available.

The first edition, Guidelines for the management of snakebite in the WHO African Region (AFRO/EDP/04.1), were developed in 2004 in response to a request from a Member State. Following their release, comments on the guidelines were received from various experts and this set the scene for their revision. The revised edition is now available for use.

Download the Guidelines for the prevention and clinical management of snakebite in Africa