India as the Snake bite capital of the world.
Madhava Sai Sivapuram
Final Year Student
Dr.Pinnamaneni Siddhartha Institute of Medical Sciences and Research Foundation
India is often referred as a land of snake charmers. Snake charming is considered to be an art to hypnotize the snakes using an instrument called Pungi. During the rule of kings and even the British rule it has attracted a lot of audiences. They are in turn named as magicians and healers too. They are named healers because of the knowledge of snakes and its venomous and non venomous effects they used to treat people with snake bites.
With gradual increase in modernization, the art of snake charming has been neglected and it has come to an extinction now. Now a days we hardly see any snake charmers, If we see any they were not extensively as knowledgeable as the ones used to be.
Snake or serpents whatever we call them, Where do we find them? Indeed in the bushes, near water bodies and under the rocks, climbing the trees. These snakes accounts for around 50,000 to 1,25,000 fatalities in the tropical country and a record number of 1,60,000 were wounded or injured. Among the 62 different species of snakes which are dangerous only 4 snakes known as the spectacled cobra, common krait, Russell’s viper and saw-scaled viper causes 70 percent of the case fatalities. The above mentioned is just an estimated number but the appropriate number can be much more higher than the current one.
With the snake charmers being endangered the treatment to these injured is also becoming difficult due to unavailability of treatment options at the local centre. Before reaching a higher centre and the treatment being started the damage is already done to the body. Sometimes even the availability of ASV (Anti Snake Venom) is also a difficult. Most of the snake bites which happens are in rural areas and if a snake bite happens, the financial burden on the rural people is too high as the treatment is costly. It would be appropriate to say that snake bites happens to be one of the most neglected diseases by the government.
Many of the NGO are coming up only focusing on the education of snake bite among rural areas like the one from Mumbai known as “Snakebite Healing and Education Society”.
After banning of live shows in 1991 and keeping 20,000 snake charmers known as madaris in prison under the name of cruelty, this made 8,00,000 snake charmers homeless. These could have been kept for a better use and can be trained for the treatment of snake bites.
Currently availability of ASV in the rural areas and the training of medical doctors and nurses for the treatment in the PHC should be made compulsory by making a national policy.
Snake is a limbless and spineless reptile but it has a capability to take a healthy person into a 6-feet grave.
- 1. Once land of snake charmers, India is now world’s snakebite capital. Available at: http://english.alarabiya.net/en/perspective/features/2017/09/07/Once-land-of-snake-charmers-India-is-now-world-s-snakebite-capital.html [ Accessed on 06/06/2018]
- Venom, myth and medicine: India fights its reputation as world snakebite capital. Available at: https://www.theguardian.com/global-development/2017/oct/27/venom-myth-and-medicine-india-fights-its-reputation-as-the-worlds-snakebite-capital. [ Accessed on 06/06/2018]