Three-quarters of the people in the Kingdom of Eswatini live on tiny farms in rural areas, which are also home to numerous very venomous serpents such as the puffer operational amplifier, the Mozambique spitting cobra, and the black mamba.
It’s the perfect mix for dangerous snake bites, and it calls for an efficient prevention measure. Fortunately, the Digital Medic initiative of Stanford Modern medical Institute for Health Teaching has created a 5-minute film that is assisting Eswatini villagers in avoiding snakes.
Anita Hettema, a worker at the Eswatini Antivenom Foundation, knew of the Stanford center’s work and requested assistance. She emailed me, saying, “We needed anything to educate the greater population on how to prevent snake bites.” “Many snake attacks may be avoided, and there are simple steps you can take to limit the likelihood of snakes breaking into your house.”
“People are more inclined to watch a quick clip than reading a flier,” she added, explaining why she wanted to make a video.
Snake poison, which can lead to blindness, limb loss, and death, brings approximately 500 individuals to health clinics each year in Eswatini, a 1.2 million-strong country that was once known as Swaziland. The number of people bitten is likely to be larger, according to the antimalarial drugs foundation, because some people don’t survive, some can’t get to a clinic, and others prefer traditional healers.
The charity, which provides antivenom to health centers, relocates snakes discovered in houses, and teaches communities on how to avoid and cure snake bites, creates posters, but it lacks the means to create a movie. The Center for Patient Data was able to offer its services and knowledge for free.
Hettema emailed the center’s team information about preventing snake bites, including how to seal gaps in walls so snakes can’t get in; how to store meals so it doesn’t attract mice, which snakes hunt; how to wear shoes outside; and how to move wood piles, where snakes lurk, away from the building.
“I took that information and wondered, what if we have a family that is well-prepared and one that isn’t?” Carlos Sanchez, the video’s creative producer, wrote the script. “It’s more fun than a checklist of dos and don’ts.”
He and Shan Fischer, a medical illustrator at the center’s South Africa branch, created a story on two families who live close to each other in the country. One is cautious about snake bites, whereas the other is not.
When a child in the slacker household is bitten by a snake, his neighbours advise his parents on how to keep him motionless and get him to the hospital as soon as possible.
Actors in English and Swazi, Eswatini’s two national languages, were hired to voice the parts.
Hettema and her foundation colleagues have shared the movie on social media, given it at elementary schools, and displayed it at community events, according to her. More individuals have contacted them regarding treating and preventing snake bites since they started spreading the video, according to Hettema.
“We’re seeing more people being aware of snakes and how to avoid getting bitten by one,” she said.
According to Aarti Porwal, the center’s managing director, the video-creation team attempts to make educational movies enjoyable.
“The concept is that you’re viewing a film that’s both informative and entertaining,” she explained. “It really doesn’t feel like you’re being lectured. We want it to be memorable and stick with you. This video, in particular, exemplified that strategy.”