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SNAKE BITES AMONG TOP KILLERS

Rachel Raditsebe

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Snakebite venom has been placed on the list of neglected tropical diseases that should be given priority. Being in the World Health Organisation’s category A means that snakebites will now get more support, including funding, to assist those afflicted by the potentially fatal bites.

Intensive care specialist at Princess Marina Hospital, Dr Alexei Milan, welcomed the move, saying that snakebite victims will now get more attention and that there will now be more resources to fight snakebites, which kill up to 32,000 people in sub-Saharan Africa every year.

It is estimated that 2.7million bites happen annually, a fifth of these in Sub- Saharan Africa. Apart from this, a quarter of the world’s 400,000 bite-related fatalities occur in the region. These figures are likely conservative as a few snakebite victims make it to statistic-reporting hospitals.

In fact, figures by an NGO – Health Action International (HAI) show that 70% of the cases go unreported. Snakebites can cause paralysis that may prevent breathing; bleeding disorders that can lead to a fatal hemorrhage; irreversible kidney failure and tissue damage that can cause permanent disability and which may result in limb amputation for those who survive the ordeal.

Dr Milan said the biggest challenge is getting the correct anti-venom in a given facility and the risk of stock-outs. Children often suffer more severe effects than adults, due to their smaller body mass.
According to local snake handler, Aaron Tsatsi, antivenoms work depending on the type of snake that bit you and where it is found. The science of producing antivenom, according to experts, involves extracting venom from snakes and injecting it into animals, such as horses.

The injected animals’ immune systems produce antibodies that neutralise the venom. These can be extracted and stored for later use on human victims who are bitten by that particular snake species.

Botswana has about 72 species of snakes and while about 80 percent of them are not venomous, a number of them are deadly including like the Puff adder, Black mamba, the poisonous Mozambique Spitting Cobra and Boomslang among others,.

Tsatsi says health workers should be aware of these in order to offer effective treatment. “To be able to help, health workers need to know what snake bit a person depending on the symptoms that they show.

“We are not telling them to go into forests and start searching for snakes,” he says,” but they need to know that for some bites you do not need any treatment because it was a dry bite or they are just not poisonous”.

Tsatsi advises people to try as much as possible to avoid bites first by changing their attitude of attacking and killing snakes when they spot them. He explains that most of the snakes, even the most poisonous, are peaceful and will not strike unless provoked.

He recommends that people move away once they spot a snake. If it spits venom in one’s eyes, he adds, they should be rinsed immediately with water. He says once bitten, all tight items on one’s body should be removed and the wounded area left alone.

Then, he adds, the patient should also be made to lie on the ground with the side that has not been bitten to limit movement of the affected area. He warns against lying on the back or use of unsaf traditional treatments. To protect yourself against bites ensure that all holes in your house are closed, cut grass around the house and watchyour steps when in the bush.

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Sun Health

Tobacco also kills non-smokers

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This year’s world cancer day theme, ‘I Am and I Will’ is an empowering call to action, it is call to individuals to make a personal commitment to help reduce the impact of cancer.

We at the Anti -tobacco Network have heeded the call. We hereby call upon all citizens of this country to stand up against the monstrous impact of tobacco use in our society. We all know that tobacco kills. I want to tell everyone that tobacco kills non-smokers as well. Let us be clear about it. Second-hand smoke also kills. It is well documented through solid science that exposure to second-hand smoke causes cancer and contributes to various lung and heart diseases.

The World Health Organization estimates that approximately 700 million, or almost half, of the world’s children are exposed to second-hand smoke. In spite of what science tells us, however, in many places it is considered so acceptable to smoke, and so rude and unaccommodating to protest, that we dare not speak out against second-hand smoke. The time has come for us to speak out. We have a right to breathe clean air.

We have a right to good health and to protect our friends and family. We need to clear the air of second-hand smoke. Today, on this very important day, we are calling for a ban on smoking in public places. A ban that offers a comprehensive solution to keeping the air clean and safe for all people, both smokers and non-smokers. A ban that puts emphasis on people’s right to health and helps to make smoking the exception rather than the norm.

Whoever you are – a cancer survivor, co-worker, carer, friend, business leader, healthcare worker, teacher or student – ‘I A m and I Will’ represents the power of individual action taken now to impact the future. The power of lending your voice to this very important call. Your participation in this Call to Action is crucial to the cause. However you choose to take action, know that your efforts will be making a difference in the lives of many.

Dr Bontle Mbongwe is the Executive Director of the Anti-Tobacco Network (ATN), as well Head of Environmental Health Programme, University of Botswana.

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Sun Health

YOGA AN EFFECTIVE TOOL TO FIGHT NCDS

Rachel Raditsebe

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The ancient Indian practice of Yoga can definitely help in the prevention and management of non-communicable diseases (NCDs), which account for at least 70 percent of deaths worldwide.
This is the firm belief of Swami Purnachaitanya- Director of Programmes and Senior International Trainer with the Art of Living Foundation.

The World Health Organisation (WHO) statistics indicate that NCDs mainly cardiovascular diseases, cancer, diabetes and chronic respiratory diseases are the main causes of death with more than 36 million dying annually. And the trends in NCDs morbidity and mortality in Botswana are no different from the global picture.The high burden of NCDs is attributed to a change in population lifestyles, which include physical inactivity because of the changing nature of work, alcohol, smoking and substance abuse particularly among the youth and pollution.

While the problem of NCDs is a not an easy one because it is caused by so many factors including lifestyle choices, Purnachaitanya said exploring Yoga, as one of the possible solutions is worth it as it has the ability to bring together the body, soul and mind for a holistic approach to health and well-being, including physical, mental and spiritual realms of the human being.

Almost 80 percent of most health problems are entirely created by stress, according to Purnachaitanya. That is why a holistic intervention like Yoga can contribute to building resilience against NCDs. “It allows for ‘real’ rest, deep restoration which brings us to balance and allow our bodies into a healing place. Yoga can definitely influence our entire lives and help us make shifts to live in a way that is better for us and cope with the challenges of life with more harmony and vitality,” he said interview recently during a visit to Botswana.

“Yoga is not just a set of exercises. It is a philosophy of discipline and meditation that transforms the spirit and makes the individual a better person in thought, action, knowledge and devotion,” he said. Yoga, he added, is the most ancient practice that also increases the mental health and boosts immunity.

When we are stressed, Purnachaitanya explains, our minds get agitated and we produce certain hormones in the body, which lower our immune system, affect our digestion, blood pressure and many other organs in the body.

Highlighted in World Health Organisation’s Global Action Plan on Physical Activity 2018-2030, is that the routine practice of Yoga is a valuable tool for people of all ages to make physical activity an integral part of life and reach the level needed to promote good health.

It claims that regular practice of Yoga and meditation fights the free radicals, regulates the blood glucose metabolism and prevents any heart disease. “So just by regular practice of some breathing techniques, Yoga meditation, people the world over have had huge improvements”, shares Purnachaitanya.

The travelling teacher,who has dedicated his life to teaching Yoga around the world and serving humanity says, the practice of Yoga can also help fight stigma, especially the self-inflicted one. “It helps one to accept where they are in life and how they give meaning to life”.

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