The medical humanitarian organization Médecins Sans Frontières (MSF) provides medical care in more than 70 countries and admits more than 7000 cases of snakebite in its facilities each year.
We describe our activities against snakebite in three African countries: Central African Republic, South Sudan and Ethiopia, in which different models of care have been developed. A standard protocol using two different antivenoms depending on the patient's syndrome has been introduced, and a simple blood coagulation test is performed to detect venom-induced coagulopathy. Other services, including surgery for necrotizing wounds, are offered in the facilities where MSF admits a large number of snakebite patients. All services, including provision of antivenom, are offered free-of-charge in MSF-supported facilities. Community-based activities focusing on preventive measures and prompt transport to hospital have been developed in a few MSF projects.
The provision of quality care and treatment, including effective antivenoms, without out-of-pocket payments by the patients, probably explains why MSF has admitted an increasing number of snakebite victims over the last years. This model requires significant resources and monitoring, including regular training of healthcare workers on treatment protocols and a considerable budget for antivenom procurement.