World Rabies Day is observed on September 28th yearly to raise awareness on the importance of rabies prevention. It was established in 2007 by the Global Alliance for Rabies Control (GARC) to raise awareness of the disease and promote efforts to eliminate it. Rabies kills over 59,000 people every year, despite being 100% preventable through mass dog vaccination – that’s one person every nine minutes. To commemorate this day, the theme this year is ‘One Health, Zero Deaths’, which emphasizes the need for a collaborative approach to rabies prevention and control for humans and animals. The World Health Organization has set a goal of eliminating rabies by 2030, and the One Health approach is key to achieving this.
One Health Approach – The Global Key to Zero Rabies Deaths
One Health is a global initiative that aims to improve the health of humans, animals, and the environment in an interconnected way. This approach recognizes that the health of all three is interdependent and that diseases can spread between them. It focuses on increasing mass dog vaccination rates to eradicate rabies-mediated deaths by 2020.
Rabies can affect any mammal but is most commonly seen in dogs. Early symptoms of rabies include fever, headache, and weakness. Patients may experience seizures, delirium, and paralysis as the disease progresses. Once symptoms develop, rabies is almost always fatal. There is no cure for rabies, but it is preventable through mass rabies vaccination.
“The One Health initiative offers a promising approach to rabies control and prevention. By bringing together different sectors and disciplines, the One Health approach can help target risk factors for rabies transmission and improve coordination between human and animal health systems. The success of the One Health approach to disease control depends on strong collaboration between government agencies, NGOs, private sector partners, and communities. The approach is particularly effective in rabies control due to the close contact between humans and animals in many communities.” Says Dr Emily Mudoga, Director – APAA.
A Call to Action to End Rabies
We must take action to end rabies. The vaccination of dogs, the main transmitters of the rabies virus, is the most effective way to prevent its spread. On this World Rabies Day, we encourage you to get your dog vaccinated against rabies. Only then can we make strides to end this deadly disease.