Antivenom rollout saving lives in PNG

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A snakebite antivenom donation from Australia to Papua New Guinea is helping save hundreds of human lives a year.

PNG has one of the world’s highest snakebite rates, with fatalities in some parts of the country three times higher than those lost to malaria or tuberculosis.

Antivenom producer Seqirus will donate up to 600 vials a year to PNG, and the Australian government will help fund its distribution, it was confirmed on Sunday, which is also International Snakebite Awareness Day.

“Australia is proud to be working together with our PNG and private sector partners to reduce the impact of snakebites and improve health outcomes,” Australian High Commissioner to PNG Jon Philip said in a statement.

The program has been running for three years and has donated and distributed almost 1500 vials of antivenom for marine creatures and snakes, including the Papuan taipan and death adder.

The alliance also trains hundreds of healthcare workers in how to treat snakebite patients.

A laboratory in Port Moresby – a collaboration between the University of Melbourne and University of PNG – manages the storage and distribution of antivenom to more than 65 health clinics, some of which are in rugged and remote areas.

The latest agreement will see the program continue for another two years until 2023.

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