UN health agency issues 1st strategy to address snake bites

FILE - In this Friday, Jan. 15, 2016 file photo, a Boa Constrictors snake is seen at a museum of venomous snakes in Lima, Peru. The World Health Organization is publishing its first-ever global strategy to tackle the problem of snake bites it was announced on Thursday, May 23, 2019, aiming to halve the number of people killed and disabled by snakes by 2030. Nearly 3 million people are bitten by potentially poisonous snakes every year, resulting in as many as 138,000 deaths. (AP Photo/Martin Mejia)

LONDON - The World Health Organization is publishing its first-ever global strategy to tackle the problem of snake bites, aiming to halve the number of people killed and disabled by snakes by 2030.

Nearly 3 million people are bitten by potentially poisonous snakes every year, resulting in as many as 138,000 deaths. Last week, Britain's Wellcome Trust announced an 80 million-pound ($100 million) program to address the problem, saying there were new potential drugs that could be tested.

In a statement, Doctors Without Borders said it was "cautiously optimistic" WHO's snakebite strategy could be a "turning point" in addressing snake bites.

The agency called the problem of snake bites "a hidden epidemic" and said most bites are treatable.

WHO's strategy includes plans to increase global access to treatment and antivenom.

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