Snakebite knowledge assessment and training of healthcare professionals in Asia, Africa, and the Middle East: A review
Snakebite envenoming (SBE) is a common neglected tropical disease in rural communities of Asia, Africa and Latin America. Among the several challenges besetting the control of SBE is inadequate access to high-quality care by snakebite victims, partly contributed by inadequate knowledge of SBE among healthcare professionals (HCPs). This narrative review examined the existing literature on the knowledge of snakebites among HCPs, the factors associated with their knowledge of snakebites and their training needs. Data on the knowledge of healthcare professionals regarding snakebites appeared scanty and were predominantly from studies done in Asia, Africa, and the Middle East. We found that the proportion of health workers with adequate knowledge of local medically important snakes could be as low as 20.2% in some settings in India, while as much as three-quarters of health workers still recommend tourniquets and Blackstone as first aid in some settings in India and Rwanda, respectively. In addition, the mean knowledge score of local snake-induced clinical syndromes could be as low as 46.2% in some settings in Ghana, while 52.7% of tertiary hospital doctors in northern Nigeria recommend antivenom in all snakebite cases. Similarly, 23% of Bhutan health workers have adequate overall knowledge of snakebite management. Furthermore, several sociodemographic characteristics of the HCPs (such as increasing age, years of experience, work setting, medical specialty, health profession and previous involvement in snakebite management) are associated with adequate snakebite knowledge. Moreover, most studies have consistently reported a lack of training on snakebites as a challenge. Therefore, the knowledge gaps identified could be incorporated into training programs and regional policies on SBE treatment protocols.