Morocco’s Naoual Oukkache Among World Experts in Snakebite Awareness

Morocco’s Naoual Oukkache Among World Experts in Snakebite Awareness

Rabat – Moroccan researcher Naoual Oukkache is among the world’s champions raising awareness about the danger of snakebites and how to prevent them.

The researcher earned the title during International Snakebite Awareness Day (ISBAD) on September 19.

Oukkache, who is also the head of  “Venoms and Toxins” laboratory at the Institut Pasteur in Morocco, is developing a new type of anti-venom against molecules responsible for mortality.

The organizers of the ISBAD announced Oukkache’s title on Saturday.

Oukkache’s scientific work can be used to “improve current treatments for snakebites and scorpion stings in order to reduce the lethality and the number of disfigurements that occur each year,” ISBAD said.

Oukkache has been part of the Institut Pasteur in Morocco since 2006.

The scientist specializes in immunotherapy and molecular biology of antibodies, Research Gate said.

The Moroccan researcher has published over 20 scientific articles in different international publications, and contributed to a score of conferences.

“Her specific areas of expertise include characterization of snake and scorpion venoms, venomics and antivenomics, therapeutics molecules from venoms and improvement of immunotherapy,” the ISBAD website said.

The ISBAD considers this year’s celebration important due to the disappearance of several diseases, including snakebite envenomation due to the COVID-19 pandemic, from public discussion.

The organizers believe that such topics must be frequently discussed as “hundreds of thousands of people still die, or disabled or suffer other long-term damage resulting from a snakebite.”

The promoters of the initiative, including the Lillian Lincoln Foundation (LLF), Health Action International (HAI), and the Global Snakebite Initiative (GSI) have selected 2020 to recognize women’s role in this fight through the launch of the “Women Champion of Snakebite” awareness campaign.

The organizers said that the women “work tirelessly” daily to alleviate the suffering caused by snakebites without receiving the attention and recognition they deserve.”

According to the World Health Organization (WHO), an estimated 5.4 million people sustain snakebites annually with over 2.7 million envenomings.

WHO also estimates that the number of people who die from snakebites annually ranges between 81,000 and 138,000.

“Bites by venomous snakes can cause paralysis that may prevent breathing, bleeding disorders that can lead to a fatal haemorrhage, irreversible kidney failure and tissue damage that can cause permanent disability and limb amputation,” the WHO said.