Rajasthan has become the first state in the country to take fresh steps to address the problem of snakebites, which claimed over 5,000 lives in the state alone last year. "We have established an exclusive Snakebite Task Force (STF) comprising Dr Ian Simpson of the World Health Organisation (WHO) Snakebite Treatment Group and Dr P.D. Tanwar of the S.P. Medical College Snakebite Research Cell, Bikaner,' said Rajasthan's Health Minister Digambar Singh. A number of other doctors from the state would join the task force to establish new treatment processes enabling doctors in the primary health centres to treat snakebite cases more effectively.
The research, to be conducted in Rajasthan by Simpson with the support of the state government, will focus on developing a new anti snake venom (ASV) from camel serum, which would deal with snakebite cases across the world. 'The research being conducted on ASV from camel serum could be more effective as it is more stable in a hot environment, causes less allergies compared to other ASVs and controls snakebite damage more effectively,' said Simpson.
The new ASV could be helpful in treating bites from the deadliest varieties of snakes, added Simpson. The ASV currently used in India was developed about 70 years ago. 'We hope to achieve a breakthrough soon,' Simpson said.