Between June and September 2019, Health Action International (HAI) used the momentum of the recently launched World Health Organization (WHO) Global Strategy for the Prevention and Control of Snakebite (roadmap) to accelerate activities in snakebite affected countries and on an international level.
RESEARCH AND ADVOCACY
To make a solid case on snakebite and convince local and global health authorities to intensify their efforts on tackling this neglected tropical disease, it is essential to gather data on snakebite incidents and treatment. HAI successfully completed its data collection in health facilities in the counties of Taita Tavete and Kwale, Kenya, in July. In the same month, HAI retrieved 36 snakebite incident forms from health facilities in Zambia and 176 from health facilities in Uganda.
The findings were shared with local health authorities in subsequent meetings in July and August. One of these was a workshop on the draft national snakebite strategy with the Ministry of Health and the WHO Country Office in Uganda, where HAI, together with our partner, HEPS Uganda, drafted a first draft of a stratey corresponding with the WHO snakebite roadmap. The Ugandan Ministry of Health integrated HAI’s materials—including the first aid poster funded by the Global Giving Community.
Additionally, we have received approval to commence research in Kajiado County, Kenya. While completing the research, data collectors provided community education and distributed first aid posters created by HAI. A further 49 firstmaterials have also been distributed to 49 health facilities in Kwale and Taita Taveta.
In August, members of the HAI snakebite team were also in Kenya, where we met with the Kenyan Wildlife Trust, Ministry of Health and a multi-stakeholder group working on snakebite. As part of this, HAI were also able to share further printed first aid posters, factsheets and other materials that received generous funding from the Global Giving community. Again this contributed to the overarching aim of our work with the local ministries—to create a sustainable impact that is owned by the local government and communities.
Part of HAI’s work in our Snakebite Project is to collect data on snakebite incidents to build an evidence base for action. Several health officials from counties near Kilifi have been eager for their county to be included in data collection going forwards and to use HAI’s tools to spread awareness and build further capacity in their communities. In Kilifi, Kenya, the combination of better data availability and community awareness through our interventions contributed to a budget being allocated for effective antivenom, thereby replacing ineffective alternatives. This is the model that we will be mirroring in other counties as the project spreads.
INCREASING GLOBAL ATTENTION
Over the last few months, HAI has taken part in a number of meetings of confernces on how to tackle the devastation of snakebite on communities. These included being part of a meeting with Members of the British Parliament, presenting at the Oxford Venom and Toxins Conference and, in September, a panel member in discussions at the European Congress on Tropical Medicines and International Health. This conference coincides with International Snakebite Awareness Day on 19 September, during which we take the opportunity to further promote and distrbute our community facing materials.
Our communications work aims to increase awareness of snakebite among a wide audience, including the WHO, national ministries in snakebite endemic countries and communities.
Our snakebite-related twitter activity reached over 28,000 people in the current reporting
period. Snakebite posts reached a further 2,500 people via Facebook. On 19 September, we will
host a Facebook Live event to mark International Snakebite Awareness Day, which we anticipate
will increase levels of engagement with snakebite related content.
We have continued to see a healthy and heartening level of requests for our first aid poster from across sub-Saharan Africa. With requests for posters from Ministeries in Uganda and Kenya, this is likely to increase further in the coming months.
Looking to the Future
We periodically support initiatives in other countries through our posters and expertise. With the funding we are able to attain through the Global Giving community, we aim to:
Between March 2019 and June 2019, Health Action International (HAI) made exciting progress with its Snakebite Project. HAI continued to implement the project in Kenya at the Bio-Ken Snake Farm, while our team in Amsterdam advocated for concerted action on snakebite at the global level. Efforts in Kenya have focused on building the capacity of communities and increasing evidence from health facilities, as well as pushing for essential policy change.
Research has been completed in the County of Kwale and has started in Taita Taveta. Additionally, we have received approval to commence research in Kajiado. While completing the research, data collectors provided community education and distributed first-aid posters created by HAI.
HAI has also received ethical approval to complete focus group discussions and community research so that we can understand ‘the real burden’ of snakebite as more than 70% of snakebites go unreported. The focus group discussions aim to understand the barriers victims perceive to exist when seeking effective healthcare. Through understanding this, more targeted community education and policy solutions can be achieved.
Finally, we advocated for, and contributed to, the National Snakebite Prevention and Management Guidelines, which have now been released in Kenya. That is the first step to saving lives and limbs.
The overarching aim of our work with the local ministries is to create a sustainable impact that is owned by the local government and communities.
Part of HAI’s work in our Snakebite Project is to collect data on snakebite incidents to build an evidence base for action. Several health officials from counties near Kilifi have been eager for their county to be included in data collection going forwards and to use HAI’s tools to spread awareness and build further capacity in their communities. In Kilifi, the combination of better data availability and community awareness through our interventions contributed to a budget being allocated for effective antivenom, thereby replacing ineffective alternatives. This is the model that we will be mirroring in other counties as the project spreads.
INCREASING GLOBAL ATTENTION
HAI has worked in close consultation with the World Health Organization (WHO) on a final version of the WHO global strategy for the prevention and control of snakebite, launched during the 72nd World Health Assembly in May 2019. Specifically, we’ve pushed for the integral role of civil society and the need for community-based activities and research to be covered comprehensively within the strategy. HAI also worked in partnership with Lillian Lincoln Foundation to organise a screening of the snakebite documentary Minutes to Die on 21 May 2019. This was an important event in the context of the WHO strategy launch, which told the story of snakebite so far and what needs to happen next. The event was attended by 115 people, and was broadcast via Facebook Live to the Brighton and Sussex Medical School, as well as the general HAI following of 8,158, making it an international screening.
Our communications work has aimed at increasing awareness of snakebite among a wide audience, including the WHO and national ministries. These efforts have meant action is now being taken to tackle the tragedy of snakebite.
From March to June 2019, no less than 25 articles were published in various languages mentioning HAI’s work on snakebite. This includes in The Guardian, Le Monde and La Libre.
Our snakebite-related social media activity reached 190,259 people and resulted in 2,562 engagements (likes, retweets, reacts and shares).
We received an increase in the number of requests for our first aid poster from all over Sub-Saharan Africa, including Tanzania, Namibia, Kenya, Uganda, Zambia, Zimbabwe, Central African Republic and three international organisations (Health Works, Plan:G, NLR)
Looking to the Future
We periodically support initiatives in other countries through our posters and expertise. With the funding we are able to attain through the GlobalGiving community, we aim to:
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