Promoting Snakebite Awareness and Safety: leveraging on the School Health Programme
Snakebite envenoming is a significant public health issue in many regions around the world including Kenya particularly in rural areas where access to medical treatment may be limited and knowledge on prevention remains limited. Part of our initiatives include the snakebite school sensitization programme. Over the last 2 years we have rolled out the program across 9 schools in 3 counties and sensitized over 500 students and 100 teachers.
As we celebrate this year’s snakebite awareness day, our awareness campaign involves the schools and school children that we have sensitized in the past through an art and essay competition. We are thrilled to showcase the creative efforts of young minds from Kakamega and Kisumu counties who entered our drawing and essay competition to highlight snakebite prevention and first aid measures. A testimony to the effectiveness of our school health program.
Here are some of their amazing submissions:
By Margret Grace Achieng
After a holiday of two months, we all came back to school in the month of January. We all eagerly
waited to enter our new classroom which we were promoted to. The school was so bushy. All the
classrooms were dusty and the walls had cobwebs. When our headteacher came, he ordered us to start
cleaning the classrooms. Standard four pupils were to clean their class and ECDE class. Standard six
pupils were to clean their class and class one. Class eight were told that girls were going to mop their
class and boys were going to slash the school compound.
Our class monitor quickly rushed to the school store to bring the tools needed. While she was in the
store a mouse ran out of the store heading in the bushes. When all boys saw it they started chasing it.
After a while we had somebody screaming for help. We rushed as fast as lightening to see what had
happened. A boy fell down and had a scar on his leg. We went closer to see what had bitten him and we
witnessed that it was a snake. The snake was following the mouse and the boy interfered with it. One
boy rushed to the school administration block to call the headteacher.
The scouts came to provide first aid. They moved the boy under a tree and removed all tight items
around the wound. They laid the boy on his side and told the boy not to panic. They did their work
carefully as they were instructed. After doing the first aid the headteacher called an ambulance within a
twinkle of an eye, the ambulance came and rushed the boy to the nearest health facility for medication.
The parent of the boy came and went with the boy to hospital. Their heart went pitter patter with
excess adrenaline. The boy was injected and we were all happy to hear that he is fine.
Prevention of a snakebite
By Divian Nandwa
Ensure when you are walking in darkness you should wear closed shoes and carry a stick which you will use to beat the bushes nearby to alert the snake. When you see a snake go back slowly and don’t beat it.
When walking at night you must carry a torch with you. Keep firewood and stones away from the house.
Cut tall grass and bushes near your homestead. Cover food properly and water and ensure that you put all animals outside. Ensure that you are sleeping under treated mosquito nets and sleep in a raised bed.
Find the way of reaching at the hospital and get treatment quickly before venom spreads in the body. Cover every hole in your house.
By a student from Kakamega County
Snakes are classified under reptiles. They produce venom when biting. The venom produced is dangerous and may cause death if not well managed.
The snakes hide in caves, holes, cracks, bushes and even in houses. They like warm places generally. We can avoid snakebites if we observe the following:
- We should ensure that bushes are slashed around our homes. This will make the environment clean. Snakes do not like being exposed. This will make them run away and search for other conducive hiding places.
- Our houses should be rats free and also frogs free. This is because snakes feed on frogs and rats. Their presence in the house will attract snakes and therefore exposing ourselves to dangers of being bitten.
- We should walk with spotlight at night. Snakes get scared with lights. Furthermore, we should ensure we put on shoes. Incase of stepping on a snake accidentally it will bite the shoes hence leaving yourself safe.
- When attacked by the snake while running away avoid using the field with grass. This is because snakes run very fast in grass we should use rough fields which may make them to have difficulties in running fast.
- When walking at night we can use walking sticks. When we tap sticks on the ground it may cause vibration which will be sensed by snakes hence making them to stay away.
- Heaping firewood in the compound is equally dangerous. This will provide hiding places for snakes.
- Our houses should be well closed. All spaces that may be used to allow snakes to get into our houses should be closed.
- Water left inside and outside our houses should be well closed. The water attracts snakes which may want to drink the water. This may keep them around hence endangering our lives. When water around our homes are closed snakes will move away in search of water hence leaving us safe.
- We can also keep pigs which feed on snakes. The pigs will kill and feed on snakes. This may scare them away hence making us safe.
We should avoid confronting snakes whenever we see them. When you see a snake you can remain calm and allow it to go its way as it may not attack you where you don’t seem to attacking it.
Before we sleep we should make our beds to ensure that they are safe before we sleep in them. This is because sometimes snakes may hide in our beddings.
Also we should sleep on beds and under nets. This may prevent snakes from accessing us easily while we are sleeping hence making us safe.
When bitten by snake you should remain calm and rush to hospital. You should not waste time.
By Divian Nandwa.
Snakes are wild animals. There are both small and big snakes. They are classified as reptiles. Snakes have venom and when they bite a person, the venom spreads quickly in the body of a human being. If first aid is delayed and one is not taken to the hospital, they are likely to die. Therefore it is important to teach people on how to deal with snakebite incase they are bitten. Tell the person to be calm and still and reassure the person. Lay or sit the person down with the bite below the level of the heart. Wash the eyes incase the snake has spit poison in your eyes and the wound immediately. Make the person to calm and relaxed. Cover the bite with a clean dry cloth don’t tighten. Don’t touch the area bitten with bare hands. Loosen the cloth near the area bitten. Rush the person to the nearest health centre.