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24 Sep 2020

Rabies Elimination – It’s All About Awareness

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Executive Director, International Veterinary Health

Did you know it is 10 years until the goal set by the WHO, OIE, and FAO to eliminate human deaths from dog mediated rabies?  Let’s be honest, this is not a simple challenge.  It’s going to take a lot of work and a lot of co-operation.  And awareness.  We need to be shouting loud that we can stop the deaths, and that a One Health approach will benefit humans, animals, and the environment.

So, as we approach World Rabies Day on the 28th September, let’s make this one the biggest yet.  We have a number of activities lined up, some of which I would like to share with you.

Rabies Hero Awards

At the beginning of the year we started the Rabies Hero Awards.  Up until now we have announced 11 awards and they have been given to people around the world:

Dr. Sarah Cleaveland (United Kingdom), Dr. Renée van Rheede van Oudtshoorn, (South Africa), Dr. Sergio Recuenco (Peru), Rachel Wright (India), Dedan Ngatia (Kenya), Felix Lankester (USA/East Africa), Kevin le Roux (South Africa), Daniel Stewart (South Africa), Prof. Louis Nel ( South Africa), Luke Gamble (United Kingdom ), Vittoria Sogno (Mozambique).

Our objective was to give recognition to all the people who are already doing so much, often with few resources and always at personal level of giving.  I am always amazed by the community we have dedicated to stopping this disease, we wanted to make sure their names are known. If you know a rabies hero then please let us know.

We will announce the next two award recipients on the World Rabies Day so follow @emergence_MAH on Twitter to find out who will be the new Rabies Hero, and, stay tuned as we revisit the 2020 heroes recognized so far.

Rabies Hero Awards emergence MSD Animal Health

World Rabies Day Awards 2020

Then, over the last few months we’ve been receiving the nominations for the World Rabies Day Awards and the shortlist will be announced at the end of the month.  The WRD Awards are more formal and we have now run them, in partnership with the Global Alliance for Rabies Control (GARC), for a number of years. These come with a monetary prize, which most winners invest back into further rabies control measures.

Hear about rabies from experts

In July you may have heard our episode of the emergence podcast covering a discussion with Daniel Stewart on dog bites and education (listen to this episode here).  Reducing dog bites is an important part of rabies control and cannot be overlooked. Daniel brings his perspective on this through many years of experience.  Reducing bites not only reduces the transmission of the disease, but also reduces the need for Post Exposure Prophylaxis and therefore has a significant impact on reducing costs, read more in this Focus On

The next episode of the podcast will be published on World Rabies Day and it features a Round Table discussion with Prof Katie Hampson (University of Glasgow), Dr Ryan Wallace (Centre for Disease Control, Atlanta), and Dr Fred Lohr (Mission Rabies). I feel very privileged to have got them together at the same time and I was fascinated to hear what they have learnt in all of their field experience.

Mission Rabies vaccination campaign. Photo by Naomi Kenton

On 22th September the United Against Rabies (UAR) forum: One Health in Action—Partnering for Success took place. The One Health approach is central to what we do and I was delighted to have had the opportunity to speak during this virtual meeting by the Tripartite OIE, FAO and WHO about the importance of cross-sectoral collaboration in making rabies elimination possible. I hope you were able to tune in. You can watch the recording here.

Rabies 360 Challenge

Throughout September, we have been taking part in the #Rabies360Challenge.  The aim is to raise rabies awareness on social media. The idea is simple, do 360 of something, anything you want.  I am walking 360,000 steps on trails in New Jersey and New York.  My dog, Luna, is coming with me on a lot of the walks although, right now, having just got back from a very hilly walk around the Ramapo Reservation, she is soundly asleep and looking as though she never wants to walk again.

New: emergence on Instagram

Finally, talking about new ways to engage, we are now also on Instagram so keep an eye out there as well from emergence_ivh and Merlin King.

emergence_ivh instagram Rabies 360 Challenge
Rabies 360 Challenge on Instagram

Executive Director, International Veterinary Health