"Developing Polyvalent Antivenom for Snakebite in Sri Lanka"
Nearly 41,000 patients are admitted to Sri Lankan hospitals annually on account of being bitten by poisonous snakes. The Ministry of Health has spent millions of dollars over the years on snake anti-venom imported from India to treat these patients. The Indian anti-venom causes severe side effects in nearly 80% of these patients, almost half of which are life threatening. In addition to this, the Indian anti-venom is not suitable for use against the commonest snake bite in Sri Lanka, the Hypnale (Hump nosed viper). A project to develop new anti-venom to fill this gap began in 2009 as a collaborative effort between scientists and well-wishers from the University of Peradeniya, University of Costa Rica and Animal Venom Research International with the guidance of the Department of Wildlife Conservation and the Department of National Zoological Gardens. Following a meeting with the Ministry of Health of Sri Lanka in 2013, the National Research Council awarded a Target Oriented grant to the University of Peradeniya for the continuation of this project. New anti-venom has now been developed at the University of Costa Rica and is undergoing pre-clinical testing on mice. The Faculty of Medicine at the University of Peradeniya will begin Clinical Trials of the anti-venom in the first quarter of 2016.
A public seminar on “Developing Polyvalent Ant-venom for Snakebite in Sri Lanka” was held at the Senate Room, University of Peradeniya on 23rd October, 2015. This particular project will be implemented in collaboration with the Instituto Clodomiro Picado, University of Costa Rica and Animal Venom Research International with support from the Department of Wildlife Conservation and the National Research Council.
Professor Upul B Dissanayake, Vice-Chancellor, University of Peradeniya made a special speech at this occasion. Professor Indika Gawarammana, Project Coordinator made a presentation over the Snake Anti-venom Manufacturing Project in Sri Lanka, and revealed that nearly 41,000 patients are admitted to Sri Lankan hospitals annually on snake-bites. The Ministry of Health spends a colossal amount of money on importation of snake anti-venom from India. He further added that after commissioning the project a considerable amount foreign exchange would be saved.
At this Public Seminar Dr. Ashoka Dangolla, Head of the Veterinary Clinical Sciences also made a presentation