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 Bangladesh targets snake charmers

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PostSubject: Bangladesh targets snake charmers   Sun Aug 09, 2009 4:43 pm


Bangladesh targets snake charmers



By Mark Dummett
BBC News, Dhaka




Traditional techniques are often used to treat snake bites in Bangladesh


The Bangladesh health ministry has said it is planning to give new training to traditional healers and snake charmers.
The move follows a survey by the ministry into snake bites, the largest ever undertaken.
It found that 700,000 people are bitten each year by poisonous snakes, and that 6,000 people die from the bites.
The doctors suggested many more Bangladeshis would survive snake bites if snake charmers received training in modern techniques.
They found that only about 3% of snake bite victims are taken to hospital, to receive anti-venom, while the vast majority are treated by mystic healers, known as an Ojhas.
By tradition, these men are snake experts - as well as looking after bite victims, they are paid to catch them, and perform snake-charming shows at festivals.
They try to save bite victims by using techniques that are frowned upon by modern science - such as applying tourniquets, sucking out poison and massaging affected limbs.
The survey reveals that most victims are bitten while walking in the countryside, or working in fields, but that 15% are attacked while sleeping at night.
The most dangerous time of year is now, when during the annual monsoon, about half of Bangladesh disappears under water, and both snakes, and people - are forced to move to dry land.
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