History and perspectives on how to ensure antivenom accessibility in the most remote areas in Brazil

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Abstract

A plan to achieve self-sufficiency in manufacturing biologicals for public health has been structured for the last 40 years in Brazil, in the context of a reform in the health system. Industrial plants of the national public laboratories have been modernized, and a program for reducing morbidity and mortality of venomous snakebite has been created, as part of the National Epidemiological Surveillance System. The epidemiological data are essential to plan for the antivenom production of 400,000 vials of snake antivenoms per year, and the acquisition by the Ministry of Health, which is the exclusive purchaser in the country. Distribution is decentralized to reach hospitals in almost 3000 municipalities, and to provide free of charge antivenom treatment. The National Sanitary Surveillance Agency organized the regulatory environment to implement rules and supervise compliance of GMP procedures, elevating the quality of the biologicals that are produced, as well as reducing the costs in production. Despite all the advances in the health system, antivenom availability and accessibility is not uniform in regards to the most vulnerable parts of the populations, which inhabit remote areas in the Brazilian Amazon region. Better logistics and transportation of liquid form antivenoms is an issue to be addressed and realistic and comprehensive health programs for indigenous groups should be effectively structured, in order to reduce the high morbidity and mortality rates associated with snakebite envenoming.

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