Helping Hands in Snake Safety (HHiSS) is a Non-Governmental Organisation, founded in 2020. HHiSS operates in the fields of snake conservation and effective snakebite management in Zambia.
Therefore, our main goals are to reduce snakebite incidences and snake bite deaths and to conserve our snakes.
To achieve this, we conduct sensitisation activities on snakes and snake safety in communities, schools, organisations and institutions across Zambia.
We also give training courses in snake awareness, identification, snakebite first aid and treatment and venomous snake handling. Finally, we cooperate with actors in the health sector to improve the safe and effective clinical treatment of snakebites in Zambia.
There are currently 102 species identified for Zambia, of which 71 pose no threat to humans, either because they are non-venomous and too small to cause us harm or because their venom is too mild to harm us. Of the remaining 31 species, only 15 could give a potentially deadly venomous bite. Of these 15, only 10 species are commonly encountered. Yet, despite these numbers, snakes are being killed indiscriminately, often in brutal manner.
Snakes form an important, integral part of the ecosystem they inhabit. They are both predator and prey. As effective pest controllers, they protect our crops and our property from rodents and other pests such as termites. To conserve snakes, we work together with a wide range of actors in the conservation sector in Zambia.
“In the 21st century, snakebite is the most neglected of all the neglected tropical diseases” – Dr. David Warrell, University of Oxford
There are many misconceptions regarding correct first aid and there is need to improve the clinical treatment of snakebite. This often and unnecessarily lead to delay of effective treatment, infections, maiming, amputations and even death.
Together with the Ministry of Health and other actors in Zambia’s health sector, we aim to promote effective snakebite management by developing national guidelines and an updated curriculum for the training of medical practitioners in effective clinical management of snakebite victims. We further training health practitioners and traditional healers and sensitise Zambia’s population about the importance to visit health facilities immediately after a snakebite. Finally, we provide free advice in snakebite cases.
HHiSS is governed by five Zambian Board members. The day-to-day operations are conducted by the National Coordinator and through the ad hoc engagement of consultants and volunteers.