For over five years, HEPS Uganda with support from different partners like Health Action International, among others has championed snakebite advocacy in Uganda. The goal has been to create more public awareness on the snakebite challenge, influencing the development of the national snakebite treatment and management strategy and drawing the attention of all stakeholders to this neglected tropical disease.
Snakes in Uganda form part of a wide-ranging package of tourism attractions.
Every year, Uganda crowns the County's Miss Tourism. She is the face of the tourism industry, contributes to foreign marketing of Uganda as a unique tourism destination and domestic tourism promotion.
22-year-old Susan Kahunde from the Tooro region is the 2021 Miss Tourism. She was selected from a group of other contestants from every region of Uganda and crowned on Saturday, October 2nd, 2021. The contestants are the tourism ‘Queens’ for the different regions of Uganda.
HEPS Uganda in partnership with Snakes Uganda, Uganda reptiles village, Miss Tourism Foundation on Friday, October 1st, 2021, held a sensitization session for the Queens on snakebites.
The session at the Uganda Reptiles Village- Entebbe, aimed at creating awareness of the snakebite challenge in the country as well as on the best first aid practices in case of a snakebite.
A recent study by HEPS Uganda in Kamuli and Lira districts found out that over 60 percent of snakebite victims and caregivers don't take the scientifically recommended first aid steps in case of a snakebite. In these areas, like in many other districts, in the case of snakebite; people use traditional medicine in snakebite treatment, some try to suck the venom from the victim's body, some tie the part around the snakebite site to stop blood and venom flow, among others.
"All these are wrong," said James Ntulume - the Executive Director of Snakes Uganda. "This is why HEPS and Snakes Uganda deemed it necessary to have this sensitization. The Queens are tourism ambassadors, they have a following, they come from different communities across Uganda and have the power to take the right message to the public," Ntulume explains.
At the end of the sensitization session, the Queens pledged to be snakebite ambassadors in their respective regions.
"I know many people who have been victims of snakebites, and people continue to suffer from this problem. In Teso, we use different traditional ways like tying a coin on the wound, but I will use my position to tell people the right things to do as first aid after a snakebite," Akimo Lydia Rita, the Teso Region Miss tourism said.
At HEPS Uganda, we believe in and work to build partnerships with different stakeholders. We believe that the Queens will contribute immensely to our work of increasing public awareness of snakebites.