World Rabies Day observed

The 13th World Rabies Day was marked in Accra on Wednesday with a call on pet owners to vaccinate their dogs in order to safeguard the lives of the citizenry.

The programme which was held under the theme “Rabies: Vaccinate to eliminate” was organised by the Food and Agriculture Organisation (FAO) in collaboration with the Ministry of Agriculture Veterinary Service.

It was aimed at highlighting the essential role of mass canine vaccination in rabies elimination in the country.

Addressing the conference, the Assistant Director General and FAO Representative to Ghana, Mr Abebe Haile-Gabriel indicated that the issue of rabies could be minimised if efforts were geared towards vaccination and keeping stray animals away from humans especially children.

According to him, the ‘Zero by 30’ Global Strategic Plan “of the 500,000 people who died from rabies each year, 40 per cent are children living in Asia and Africa,” and called for holistic approach to deal with the situation to save kids from rabies.

Mr Haile-Gabriel stated that most stray animals carried rabies and re-echoed the need for the country to supplement the United against Rabies 2030 strategy that requires the pet owners to vaccinate animals that carried zoonotic diseases.

He underscored the need for the country to embark on five-year campaign and vaccination programme to create awareness to eliminate potential exposure of human to rabies.

A comprehensive roadmap for progressive elimination of rabies, he noted had been rolled out through the Ghana Rabies and Prevention Action Plan (2018-2030) to end epidemics of neglected tropical diseases by 2030.

Mr Haile-Gabriel pledged the readiness of the FAO to collaborate with other stakeholders in preventing and controlling rabies in the country.

Dr Owen Kaluwa, the World Health Organisation (WHO) Representative to Ghana observed that rabies was an endemic which had to be controlled to save lives.

He explained that through the “Zero human rabies deaths by 2030” strategy, countries were supported to develop and implement their national rabies elimination plans that embrace the One Health Concept and cross sectoral collaboration.

Dr Kaluwa noted that 99 per cent of zoonotic disease like rabies was transmitted from dogs to humans, adding that One Health approach to controlling and ultimately eliminating human rabies was expedient.

Director of Veterinary Service, Dr Asiedu Baah lamented that rabies had become global burden.

“Though rabies has no cure, the infection is vaccine preventable, hence its elimination is feasible therefore any animal owner must ensure their animals are vaccinated,” he stated.

Dr Baah said although rabies was fully preventable using appropriate sustainable control strategies, lack of funds and concerted efforts had continued to result in escalation of human death and the spread of the endemic.

“It is imperative that the animal sector is adequately resourced to prevent transmission of rabies in dogs as a protective measure against the disease,” he added.


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