Nigeria records 20,000 cases of snake bites, 2,000 deaths annually — Minister discloses


The Minister of State, Federal Ministry of Health, Olorunnimbe Mamora, disclosed that Nigeria records an average of 15,000 to 20,000 cases of snakebite every year.

He explained that out of the figure, about 2,000 people are killed and between 1,700 and 2,000 people have one leg or arm amputated to save their lives following a snakebite.

Mr Mamora made this known on Monday, at a ministerial press briefing marking the 2021 International Snakebite Awareness Day, ISBAD, in Abuja.

According to the News Agency of Nigeria, since 2018, ISBAD had been commemorated on September 19, representing an opportunity for Nigerians to raise awareness of one of the world’s biggest hidden health crises.

‘Each year, approximately 5.4 million people are bitten by a snake globally, of whom 2.7 million are injected with venom. Snakebite “poisoning”, known as envenomation, had long been a public health problem in Nigeria, especially in rural areas.

He said that even though there were also snakes that were not poisonous, Nigeria had three main types or snake species responsible for envenomation.

“The Cobra or Naja nigricollis, the Puff Adder or Bitis arietans and the Carpet Viper or Echis ocellatus.

“Snakebite affects the lives of many people and most of the victims are rural women, children, peasant farmers, herdsmen and hunters.

“A most recent survey, conducted in 2013 by Habib et all, showed that snakebites in Nigeria occur at 497 cases per 100,000 people. The Carpet Viper is the one responsible for most, about 90% of bites and 60% of snakebite deaths.

“Nigeria records an average of 15,000 – 20,000 cases of snakebite every year, with about 2,000 people killed and between 1,700 and 2,000 people having one leg or arm amputated, to save their lives after a snakebite,” Mr Mamora said.

He noted that snakebite occurs mainly during planting and harvest seasons, when people go about their work on the farm or in bushes.

He, however, called for support for local manufacturing of anti-venom injection to make treatment affordable, available, accessible, and cost effective, for the common man, who cannot afford to pay when the accident happens.

He disclosed that in 2006, when the programme made a proposal of N1.8billion to the federal government, which was approved by the former President Olusegun Obasanjo’s government but was truncated, because the funds were not approved for the setting up, of the local manufacturing plants.

“Other moves to try and get resources to ensure the local manufacturing plants, to produce the anti-venom have not been successful.

“We have not succeeded in getting a new approval from the government, rather, we were asked to look in the direction of Public-Private-Partnership (PPP) arrangement.

“We are doing this currently with some of our partners which have been affirmed, we have about five groups that have shown interest in the local manufacturing plants,” he said.