A physician who was formerly with the United Nations (UN), Dr Akshay Rath, has led a team of research scientists to manufacture a snake anti-venom purposely for the African continent.
The snake anti-venom, which was manufactured this year, is known as Beafrique-10, and according to Dr Rath, it was produced using venom from snakes which are home to Africa.
He said the anti-venom could be used to treat the bites of 16 of the most common and potent snakes in Africa.
He explained that currently, Ghana, from where the research into the manufacture of the snake anti-venom began in 2016, was the first country the drug was being introduced, following its approval by the Food and Drugs Authority (FDA).
In an interview with the Daily Graphic on the occasion of the 75th anniversary of the UN, Dr Rath said it was the team’s future plan to eventually make Ghana the hub of all snake anti-venom production activities in Africa.
Doing so, he said, would involve the setting up of a snake farm in Ghana, from where venom could be procured to feed the manufacturing plant.
The project team included the Kofi Annan Foundation, the Liverpool School of Tropical Medicine and the medicine manufacturer, Biological E. Limited of India.
The team is currently working towards getting approval from the Food and Drugs Authority of Nigeria and eventually a pre-qualification approval from the World Health Organisation (WHO).
According to Dr Rath, snake bite was the third largest killer in the world, coming after mosquitoes and human beings killing each other in incidents such as road accidents and wars.
Globally, he said, about four million people are bitten annually by snakes and a 100,000 die from it while close to 400,000 are amputated, paralysed or disabled by it through poor treatment.
In Africa, he added, more than one million snakebites are recorded each year, a figure which he said was not realistic because most of the cases were not recorded.
He said the people worst affected by snakebites are the poor from rural communities, agricultural workers and children.
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