Nigeria’s minister of state for health, Olorunnimbe Mamora, has said an average of 20,000 cases of snake bites are recorded in Nigeria every year.
Mr Mamora disclosed this at a press briefing to mark the 2021 International Snakebite Awareness Day (ISBAD) in Abuja on Monday.
He said about 2,000 people die from snakebites annually and over 1,700 lose their legs or arms as a result of snake bite.
Since 2018, International Snakebite Awareness Day is commemorated on September 19 every year, representing an opportunity to raise awareness of one of the world’s biggest hidden health crises.
Snake bite particularly affects the most vulnerable members of society – often those living in remote rural areas, according to the World Health Organisation (WHO).
The WHO said agricultural workers and people living in poorly constructed homes face the highest risk and often have limited access to education, health care, and even footwear.
Mr Mamora said snakebite “poisoning”, known as envenomation, has long been a public health problem in Nigeria, especially in rural areas.
He said there are three main types of snake species responsible for envenomation in Nigeria.
“The Cobra or Naja nigricolis, the Puff Adder or Bitis arietans and the Carpet Viper or Echis ocellatus.
“The Carpet Viper is the one responsible for most, about 90 per cent of bites and 60 per cent of snakebite deaths,” he said.
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He explained that snakebites in Nigeria occur at 497 cases per 100,000 people.
“The snake bites cases increased recently as a result of excessive rainfall, leading to more morbidity and deaths connected with inadequate quantities of antisnake-venom.
“States with the most cases of snakebite in Nigeria are Gombe, Plateau, Adamawa, Bauchi, Borno, Nasarawa, Enugu, Kogi, Kebbi, Oyo, Benue, and Taraba,” he said.
He also said Nigeria is among countries worst affected by snake bites, reaching epidemic proportions.
“About 5 million people in the world are bitten by snakes every year and up to 2.5 million people suffer poisoning or envenomation.
“At least 100,000 of them die from the bites and about 300,000 amputated or suffer other permanent disabilities caused by snake bites,” he said.
In his remarks, the permanent secretary, Federal Ministry of Health (FMOH), Mamman Mahmuda, noted that from January 2018 to December 2020, over 45,834 cases of snake bite and 1,793 deaths were reported in the country.
Mr Mahmuda said some cases still remain unreported due to the fact that they were not reported to the health facilities.
He said the figure underscores the government’s determination to improve access to safe, effective and affordable anti-snake venom to treat victims.
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