AIIMS Bhubaneswar to undertake research study on Snakebite Mitigation

Bhubaneswar: Odisha is witnessing an upward trend of snakebite deaths. It is struggling to cope with an increasing number of snakebite deaths with about 800 deaths per year. Being an issue of public health, the involvement of common people is important to mitigate and improve the situation. In this context, AIIMS Bhubaneswar is undertaking a research study with a target to reduce snakebite incidences in Odisha. The Department of Forensic Medicine & Toxicology of AIIMS Bhubaneswar is undertaking this scientific study to tackle human-snake conflict in the current season.

This pilot study is part of a proposed project of research to be taken up across the state. Initially it will be implemented in Bhubaneswar and its peripheral areas. Around 400 families will be included in the research study. “The study will be conducted in Bhubaneswar and adjoining areas. The study has the title “A cross sectional study of knowledge, attitude and practice (KAP) on first aid, treatment and prevention of snakebite in the residents of house from where a snake is rescued”, said Dr. Sudipta Ranjan Singh, MD, Additional Professor, Dept of Forensic Medicine & Toxicology. Dr. Singh is also the Investigator of the study. Dr. Manoj Kumar Mohanty, Professor & HoD of the Dept is the Co-Investigator.

This is a cross-sectional observational study which will be conducted in collaboration with volunteers of “Snake Helpline” an authorized registered organization engaged in rescue and rehabilitation of snakes in Odisha. The volunteers of snake rescue will collect the data from the field by questionnaires from the members of the households from where a call for rescue for the snake was made. The questionnaires will be in local Odia and English language. The study will help to analyze the level of awareness among study groups about appropriate first aid methods, prevailing taboos, health care seeking behavior in cases of snake bite and preventive practice to reduce snake intrusion, breeding and bite in domestic premises.

For this study 10 volunteers of Snake Helpline were trained by the experts of the Department of Forensic Medicine & Toxicology about the methods of sampling yesterday. The citizens will be asked simple questions on snakes, snakebite, first-aid, prevention etc. After obtaining the data from the citizen, an awareness leaflet will also be handed over to the study participants to improve their knowledge about snakes and snakebite.

Though the study was approved earlier, it could not be started due to the restrictions for Covid-19. The Research team of AIIMS Bhubaneswar has finalized all the ethical criteria of the study with the help of Snake Helpline. Subhendu Mallik, General Secretary of Snake Helpline is the Research Coordinator for the study.

Speaking over it, Investigator of the study Dr. Sudipta Ranjan Singh said that the WHO has declared “Snake Bite” as a neglected tropical disease. It is a public health issue in Odisha. Deaths due to this mishap are rising day by day. Though there is availability of definite treatment for snakebite most people seek help from traditional healers and report late to hospitals. There are many other issues which need redressal. However, valid research data regarding the various road blocks to hospitals is lacking. The study is designed to identify these less talked difficulties and improve the situation in Odisha”, added Dr. Singh. Dr. Singh has also sought cooperation of the citizens of Bhubaneswar in the study.

It may be noted here that AIIMS Bhubaneswar in association with the Snake Helpline has developed a mobile application and website to help people on snakebite. The ‘Snake Helpline App’ and a dynamic website have been launched under the guidance of the Department of FM&T.