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Project June 6, 2019

Snakebites and Anti-Venom in the Congo

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A venomous snake in the DRC. Image by Hugh Kinsella Cunningham. Democratic Republic of the Congo, 2019.
A venomous snake in the DRC. Image by Hugh Kinsella Cunningham. Democratic Republic of the Congo, 2019.

With vast jungles home to numerous species of venomous vipers, the Democratic Republic of Congo is at the forefront of what has been called a "neglected health crisis for Africa" by Doctors Without Borders. Snakebite envenomation leading to death or life changing injury has been flagged as a critical and unreported crisis, with a 2018 Lancet study reporting 81,000 to 138,000 annual deaths on average.

Predominately affecting the majority world due to viper habitat distribution, snakebites have greater lethality in developing countries, where infrastructure and capacity to react and distribute specialised anti-venoms is limited. Official and reliable statistics are also hard to come by at a local level for these same access factors. With huge areas to cover and a wide variety of venom in the ecosystem, Congo, and its poorly-connected rural populace, are at the frontline of this health crisis.

This project explores these issues by introducing audiences to the snakes that inhabit Congo and highlights the issues posed by snake bites in a shared ecosystem. 

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