The Cameroon Society of Epidemiology is working hard to contain the situation that has already affected over 1,800 people.
The Cameroon Society of Epidemiology, CasE, is currently undertaking a one-year national survey of the incidence of snake bites in the country. The study, which began last December 2014, ends in December 2015. After 41 weeks of activity, the figures are alarming – 32 deaths and 1,869 people bitten by snakes in the country.
Speaking in Yaounde yesterday, November 4, 2015, at the opening of an international workshop on managing snake bites, the Minister of Public Health, André Mama Fouda said the problem of snake bites was very sensitive; reason why government encourages private initiatives like that of the Cameroon Society of Epidemiology. He also hailed the organisers of the workshop for including traditional healers in training. The workshop is intended to empower at least 100 health professionals for optimal care of snake bite victims.
According to the President of the Cameroon Society of Epidemiology, Dr Armand Nkwescheu, the three northern regions of Far North, North and Adamawa, account for 739 of the 1,869 cases or 40 per cent. Similarly, 23 of the 32 deaths were also in the three northern regions, giving a total of 72 per cent. Only the South West and North West Regions are yet to record any deaths since the survey began.
Statistics show that Cameroon has about 150 snake species, out of which 32 are venomous. Dr Nkwescheu explains that the toll of morbidity caused by amputations and other consequences of snake bites are high. He adds that snake bites kill more people each year than either poliomyelitis or measles. Women, children and farmers in poor rural communities suffer more from snake bites. On the other hand, managing snake bites is not adequate in many health facilities in Cameroon, experts say. Health staffs are not often abreast with new developments and quite often, anti-venom serum for treating patients is scarce and expensive.
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