Hamish Ogston Foundation commits to supporting snakebite research
I am pleased to announce that the Hamish Ogston Foundation has committed to supporting snakebite research in three of the Asian countries worst affected by this neglected tropical disease.
The programmes, which will be carried out over three years in Myanmar, Vietnam and India, are expected to attract substantial funding, in the region of £3 million. They will range from the hospital treatment of snakebite victims to prevention and first aid.
In 2019, studies will begin on the effectiveness and safety of currently available and recently developed antidotes to snake venoms, known as antivenoms. The results of this research will give doctors objective evidence and reliable guidelines for using these essential drugs.
In addition, trials will begin using revolutionary ancillary drugs that block the action of lethal venom enzyme toxins. These novel remedies will be used alongside antivenoms in treating bites by the notorious Russell’s viper in Myanmar and against the serious local tissue damage caused by spitting cobra bites in Vietnam, for which conventional antivenoms have proved ineffective.
In these countries, protective clothing often causes practical as well as cost-related problems – hot, cumbersome boots may be unpopular among rural workers in tropical climates and may be resisted for superstitious reasons. Therefore, the investigators will also seek to educate potential victims of occupational snakebite to wear specially designed light-weight boots, which have already been found acceptable to rice farmers in Myanmar.
The effectiveness of the simple pressure-pad immobilisation first-aid method will also be investigated in areas where snakebite is particularly common.
The results achieved by the programme will be passed on to the national ministries of health and international organisations such as WHO for widespread implementation.