Project: Tackling the global snakebite crisis

Tackling the global snakebite crisis: Opportunities for participatory approaches to ecology and health in the Digital Era

Snakebite is the second neglected tropical killer being responsible for over 100,000 human deaths and 400,000 victims of disability and disfigurement globally every year.


Snakebite mostly affects poor and rural communities in developing and emerging countries, where both snakebite is more frequent and access to life-saving healthcare (e.g. antivenom) is limited or absent. Sub-Saharan Africa and South and South-East Asia are among the most affected areas of the world, but China is also suffering with more than 4,000 deaths every year.

Unfortunately, snakebite is severely neglected by international and national policy makers and donors, pharmaceutical industry, media and even academia. Doctors Without Borders (MSF) refers to a “public health emergency gone under the radar” stressing on the lack of reliable reporting systems and a major underestimation of the global burden of snakebite, which makes this not only a humanitarian crisis but also a crisis of data and scientific knowledge.

Pierre-Yves Bernard/MSF

Let’s work together to tackle this crisis! Here some research and implementation challenges:

  • Which environmental, ecological and socio-economic factors affect the distribution of venomous snakes in the world? “Play” with our crowdsourced massive dataset on snake distribution and cross-match this with open data on climate change, urbanization etc., to discover interesting global patterns
  • Where are venomous snakes in China? Build an app to spot snakes and to create the first map on geographical distribution of venomous snakes in China
  • How to ensure urgent transportation of snakebite victims to get life-saving healthcare in hyper-endemic areas? Build a app like Uber to alert about snakebite cases and to mobilize the community for urgent transportation of victims to health facilities
  • Transporting antivenom with drones in hyper-endemic areas? Set a service to transport antivenom to health facilities in urgent need
  • Can computers identify snakes species? Based on our massive set of snake images, build a computer-based snake species recognition system

These are just some ideas, we have many others and we would be pleased to discuss them with you. Of course, come up with your own great ideas too!