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Provision of expert advice on clinical and biological aspects of snakebite

As befits a centre of excellence, KSRIC will serve local, national and regional needs by providing information on venomous snakes, snakebite incidence, mortality and morbidity rates and therapy availability, etc. It will develop solutions in response to the needs of Kenyan snakebite victims. For example, and consistent with Kenya’s pioneering fiscal use of the mobile phone, KSRIC will develop a mobile phone app central to its rapid response/first aid program to quickly provide health assistance to victims. KSRIC will also start a new University-level teaching program for clinical, science and public health students and, through IPR, provide this information to the general public.

Determining the incidence, mortality, morbidity and socioeconomic impact of snakebite

The magnitude of the snakebite disease burden upon rural Africans is not well recognized by policy makers of African government health authorities – primarily because the burden of disease data is poor, often fragmented and therefore difficult to utilize for making confident policy decisions. KSRIC will expand an ongoing snakebite epidemiological and socioeconomic program (being conducted by the Institute of Primate Research) in Baringo County to the other counties in Kenya – providing the government with accurate national snakebite burden of disease data enabling the formulation of evidence-based health policy. It will also garner the information needed to access support from International and Regional Health Agencies.

Establishing the first Antivenom Quality Control Unit in sub-Saharan Africa: 

Many, perhaps the majority, of antivenoms to treat snakebite currently being imported into tropical African countries are not subjected to QC
efficacy testing – against WHO and government guidelines. It is documented (in Ghana) that this oversight can have disastrous consequences – increasing hospital case fatality from 1.8% (when using an effective antivenom) to 12.1% – following treatment with a newly imported antivenom whose efficacy against West African snake envenoming had not been determined. KSRIC will establish all the resources and skills to provide the Kenyan Government (and other regional governments) with an independent antivenom efficacy preclinical testing facility, and the future assurance that all antivenoms in use in Kenya are effective and safe.

Establishing the first centre for research on snakebite therapy, diagnosis and basic biology

An examination of the science and clinical literature quickly reveals that our knowledge of snakebite, its therapy and basic biology in subSaharan Africa is overly dependent upon scientists and clinicians from overseas. The establishment of KSRIC will provide Kenyan students, scientists and clinicians with new opportunities for career advancement on such important topics as: developing a rapid snakebite diagnostic kit; developing improved therapies to treat snakebite; testing the efficacy of plant-based traditional remedies; developing a snake-deterrent to stop snakes coming into homes; examine the possible effect of climate change on snakebite incidence; etc. Thus, the unique resources of KSRIC will attract international grant funding and collaborators, and establish new and empowering student/scientist exchange programs – thereby contributing to Kenya’s scientific output and reputation.