LSTM's Dr Robert Harrison organises prestigious Hinxton Retreat on tropical snakebite victims

News article 18 Sep 2015
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Dr Robert Harrison, the Head of LSTM’s Alistair Reid Venom Research Unit, has organised a prestigious Hinxton Retreat at the Wellcome Genome Campus in Cambridge to address the neglect of tropical snakebite victims.

The Wellcome Trust funded retreat is entitled: Mechanism to reverse the public health neglect of tropical snakebite victims, and takes place over two days next week (22nd and 23rd September). It aims to identify and initiate mechanisms to substantially reduce the high rates of death and disability currently suffered by tropical snakebite victims by combining the knowledge, experience and commitment of physicians, scientists and non-academics working on tropical snakebite with the fiscal, political and advocacy power of representatives from funding agencies, tropical Governments, International Health Agencies and medical charities.

Dr Harrison said: “The series of Hinxton Retreats is very prestigious, and the inclusion of the ‘neglect of snakebite victims’ within its portfolio is testimony to its recognition by the Wellcome Trust, and hopefully a stimulus for similar recognition, and participation, by other donors and International Health Agencies. With thousands of deaths and devastating injuries caused by snakebite each year, it is of vital importance that the global health community and governments of tropical countries invest in the development of new effective and affordable antivenoms, and in research to develop therapies that are more effective, safe and affordable than current antivenoms.”

Four objectives have been set for those participating in the retreat:

  1. Identify new research, and public health collaborative mechanisms through which we can substantially reduce snakebite mortality and morbidity.
  2. Identify options for funding these new collaborative initiatives.
  3. Identify means by which we can get snakebite issues included as priorities for International Health Agencies – as a minimum to persuade the 2016 WHO assembly to re-instate snakebite as a WHO priority NTD.
  4. Prepare ‘position papers’ for publication in journals whose readership includes policy makers in tropical Governments and International Health agencies, and the snakebite community.

Reference to the retreat has been included in the Lancet editorial of 18th September that is focussed on the neglect of snakebite victims.