Australia, PNG extend partnership for anti-venoms

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A PARTNERSHIP between Papua New Guinea and Australia to donate anti-venoms and help save the lives of people bitten or stung by venomous snakes and marine creatures has been extended for a further two years, 2021-2023, the Australian High Commission says.
The announcement coincided with international snakebite awareness day yesterday.
The high commission, in a statement, said PNG had one of the highest snakebite rates in the world – with snakebite mortality rating in some parts of the country three times higher than malaria or tuberculosis.
However, more than 500 lives have been saved in PNG over the last three years through improved access to the timely administration of anti-venom.
The partnership was an initiative of PNG’s Health Department, the Australian government and Seqirus Pty Ltd.
It is operated by the Charles Campbell toxinology laboratory (CCTL) in Port Moresby (a University of Melbourne collaboration with the University of PNG).
Seqirus – a wholly owned subsidiary of CSL Ltd – is donating up to 600 vials of anti-venom a year to PNG, with the Australian government providing financial support for the management and distribution of the anti-venom, in addition to the training of healthcare workers on snakebite patient management.
CCTL is on the UPNG campus in Port Moresby and is staffed by a qualified pharmacist and snakebite nurse.
This team manages the distribution of anti-venoms to more than 65 healthcare clinics, many in remote areas across PNG, as well as the training of health care workers and the collection of epidemiological data relating to snakebites and patient management.
Minister for Health and HIV/AIDS Jelta Wong welcomed the announcement. “We welcome the renewal of this partnership to increase access to anti-venoms in PNG,” he said.
“Snakebites continue to be a serious public health issue and the improved supply and specialist training is helping to save lives and reduce the burden of snakebites in PNG.”
Jon Philp, Australia’s High Commissioner to PNG, said he was delighted to continue Australia’s support for the project.