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BackgroundSnakebite has become better recognized as a significant cause of death and disability in Sub-Saharan Africa, but the health economic consequences to victims and health infrastructures serving them remain poorly understood. This information gap is important as it provides an evidence-base guiding national and international health policy decision making on the most cost-effective interventions to better manage snakebite. Here, we assessed hospital-based data to estimate the health economic burden of snakebite in three regions of Burkina Faso (Centre-Ouest, Hauts Bassins and Sud-Ouest).MethodologyPrimary data of snakebite victims admitted to regional and district health facilities (eg, number of admissions, mortality, hospital bed days occupied) was collected in three regions over 17 months in 2013/14. The health burden of snakebite was assessed using Disability-Adjusted Life Years (DALYs) calculations based upon hospitalisation, mortality and disability data from admitted patients amongst other inputs from secondary sources (eg, populations, life-expectancy and age-weighting constants). An activity-based costing approach to determine the direct cost of snake envenoming included unit costs of clinical staff wages, antivenom, supportive care and equipment extracted from context-relevant literature.FindingsThe 10,165 snakebite victims admitted to hospital occupied 28,164 hospital bed days over 17 months. The annual rate of hospitalisation and mortality of admitted snakebite victims was 173 and 1.39/100,000 population, respectively. The estimated annual (i) DALYs lost was 2,153 (0.52/1,000) and (ii) cost to hospitals was USD 506,413 (USD 49/hospitalisation) in these three regions of Burkina Faso. These costs appeared to be influenced by the number of patients receiving antivenom (10.90% in total) in each area (highest in Sud-Ouest) and the type of health facility.ConclusionThe economic burden of snake envenoming is primarily shouldered by the rural health centres closest to snakebite victims-facilities that are typically least well equipped or resourced to manage this burden. Our study highlights the need for more research in other regions/countries to demonstrate the burden of snakebite and the socioeconomic benefits of its management. This evidence can guide the most cost-effective intervention from government and development partners to meet the snakebite-management needs of rural communities and their health centres.

Original publication





PLoS neglected tropical diseases

Publication Date





The Centre for Snakebite Research & Interventions, Department of Tropical Disease Biology, Liverpool School of Tropical Medicine, Liverpool, United Kingdom.