Around 7 lakh people suffer snakebites in Bangladesh per year and more than 6,000 among them lose their lives.
Speakers addressing a seminar on the issue of snakebites said many of the victims originate from poor families living in rural regions throughout the country. To make matters worse, anti-venoms are not readily available at upazila level hospitals.
The seminar was organised by the Non-communicable Diseases Control Programme at the Hotel Intercontinental in Dhaka on Thursday.
Addressing the event, Minister for Health and Family Welfare Zahid Malik said, "On average, around 16 people die of snakebites every day in Bangladesh. That means at least one person dies of snakebite in every one and a half hours.
"Victims can get anti-venom in every district level hospitals. However, most of the upazila level hospitals lack this facility. Initiatives will be taken to distribute anti-venom vials in every upazila-level hospitals under the health ministry as soon as possible."
"India exports anti-venom to Bangladesh. However, the species of snakes in Bangladesh is slightly different compared to India. Under the circumstances, initiatives must be taken to produce anti-venom in our country," said Professor Dr Abul Kalam Azad, general director at the directorate of health.
Speakers at the seminar revealed that a Venom Research Centre has been established in the Chattogram Medical College Hospital as a primary step for producing anti-venom with funding from the Bangladesh government.
In accordance to the World Health Organisation guideline, various steps have also been taken to produce anti-venom at the centre.
Dr Aparna Shah, regional adviser at the World Health Organisation presented the work strategy, while Dr Aniruddha Ghosh presented the Venom Research Centre's activities during the seminar.
The cover of Snakebite Treatment Guideline 2019 was also unveiled during the seminar.
The World Health Organisation has prepared "Snakebite Envenoming: A Strategy for Prevention and Control" for the first time to reduce 50 percent deaths by snakebites within 2030.