Friday, 15 March 2013

National Snakebite Survey: Day 2 of Protocol Development Workshop

By Soumyadeep Bhaumik
Bhaumik is a medical doctor, independent researcher and freelance writer from Kolkatta.

With a fabulous mix of experts from various arenas outlining a host of problems  that might hamper the national snakebite survey on Day 1, I did actually lose sleep worrying whether this so important national survey  would actually take off. However, Day 2 was indeed remarkable. March 12, 2013 is indeed a day that will be looked down the line as a day which changed the course of snake bite management in India.

The venom detection group gave a few presentations .They also outlined what kind of data and help they would require from the clinicians as well as the herpetologists and the study trial co-ordinators. The venom detection group met separately to get their act together and to ensure parity in protocols, laboratory and storage methods etc .They also had a teleconference with Prof. David Lalloo, Liverpool School of Tropical Medicine, UK to finalise the plan on the venom detection group.  

Venom Detection Group

In the mean time the clinical group actually discussed the nitty-gritty of the study – smoothening out whatever problems that has been foreseen the day before. The protocol as well as the patient proforma was finalised. The basic details of the operating manuals which all the centres will adhere to was also discussed. Even ethical and patient privacy concerns were addressed. The amazing amount of integration which followed in this couple of hours is indeed something that I have not seen for a really long time.  With the clinicians almost final on the study protocols the venom detection group joined them and together they synthesized whatever little things that were left. Preliminary discussion on data entry, communication, statistic
al tools and mobile based technologies were also undertaken. 
               Jeevan Kuruvilla from Jharkhand

Just when I thought nothing more could be achieved and the session was about to end, the workshop threw in another surprise when Jeevan Kuruvilla of Navjivan Hospital, Jharkhand, proposed that his centre was ready to act as a nodal centre and pool data from various other hospitals around his. Even others in the group gave similar proposals.

This proposal, if accepted and then later acted upon, will definitely increase the  sample size massively thereby enhancing the practicality and reliability of the data obtained massively.

While I fly back from Vellore, I go with the hopes of having witnessed a move that will in the future save at least 40,000 lives per year.  A move that is not hyped by media attention but a will to change the nation.

Read  my feature titled 'Snakebite: a forgotten problem' at the British Medical Journal