ABS Biodiscovery Case in Panama
Research on endemic scorpions to support the development of an antivenom.
In the Republic of Panama, scorpion poisoning has become a public health issue. There are 3900 to 4400 cases of mortal and serious poisonings registered annually, most frequently in children under 15 years of age, being Panama the second country in Latin America with the highest number of scorpion bites with 52 per 100000 inhabitants and the first one in Central America.
Few labs produce general antivenoms in the region and none of them give full coverage to the most poisonous scorpion that is endemic to Panama. Therefore, the availability of these antivenoms is a top health priority, in particular for those communities that live in remote rural areas closer to biodiversity.
Since 2007, the University of Panama, in coordination with national and international institutions, has developed a comprehensive Research Programme on Panamenian Scorpions that produce serious and fatal poisonings.
With the support of the Ministry of Environment and the UNDP-GEF Global ABS Project, this initiative aims to increase the sustainable production of poison that will allow the development of the specific antivenom for Panama, at the national level. In addition to the improvement of methodology for the extraction of poison, the research supports a deeper study of scorpion toxins.
This research on Panamanian scorpion venom contributes to the Sustainable Development Goal (SDG) 3: Health and well-being. It supports the research and development medicines and its affordable access; it substantially increase health financing and the recruitment, development, training and retention of the health workforce in the country; and it strengthens the capacity for early warning, risk reduction and management of national and global health risks.
Read more on this biodiscovery case here.
Learn more about biodiversity in Panama and the implementation of the Nagoya Protocol here.