International Snakebite Awareness Day 2019: death, injuries and prevention

The Australian Venom Research Unit (AVRU) in SBS has been involved in community prevention videos focusing on the issue of snakebite in India and Africa and engaging communities in these regions.

Around five million people are bitten by venomous snakes globally each year.

The World Health Organization (WHO) estimates that between 81,000 and 138,000 people die from snakebites annually - and 400,000 are left permanently disabled or disfigured.

In addition, there are around 2.7 million cases of snake "envenoming" every year: poisoning from venom entering the bloodstream via a bite or venom being sprayed into the eyes. Most snakebites occur in Africa, Asia and Latin America as men, women and children go about their daily activities.

The School of Biomedical Sciences’, AVRU, is part of the coalition of organisations who are working together to raise awareness globally about the impact of snakebite through International Snakebite Awareness Day held on 19 September each year.

AVRU’s Head, Dr David Williams was closely involved in the development of the WHO strategy, Snakebite envenoming - A strategy for prevention and control, published in May 2019. Together with other AVRU members, Dr Andrew Watt and Dr Timothy Jackson, they have collaborated with the Lillian Lincoln Foundation to produce a series of community prevention videos.

The videos are available in local languages and emphasise the work currently underway to educate, empower and support communities in these and other high risk regions - and ultimately to save lives.

Dr Williams says, “Developing a sustainable package of interventions to reduce the burden of death and suffering is a substantial challenge. The WHO has started the process by preparing a strategic road map that aims at cutting deaths and disability by 50% before 2030. To succeed the WHO needs support and assistance from a wide range of partners, and in that regard, International Snakebite Awareness Day is a huge step in the right direction.”

The AVRU and partners launched International Snakebite Awareness Day in 2018. They work together to raise awareness of the impact of snakebite and to propel action around the issue. This work was supported by the late Kofi Annan, on national governments, health agencies, pharmaceutical companies and non-governmental organisations, to acknowledge snakebite as a global health issue.

The list of partners are:

Global Snakebite Initiative

Royal Society of Tropical Medicine and Hygiene

Lillian Lincoln Foundation

The Kofi Annan Foundation

Liverpool School of Tropical Medicine

The International Society on Toxinology

The Wellcome TrustHealth Action International

Médecins sans Frontières 


Instituto Clodomiro Picado

Instituto de Biomedicina de Valencia