Sustaining the successful anti-rabies campaign
posted 8-Oct-2018  ·  
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Governor Joseph Cua, the Provincial Rabies Control Committee (PRCC) and the local government units deserve congratulations from the people of Catanduanes for their feat in having the island province and its 11 towns declared as rabies-free zones.

With no case of human or canine rabies recorded in the last two years, the island and its towns were given plaques by the national government during the National Rabies Summit in Paranaque City last Sept. 27, 2018, coinciding with the celebration of World Rabies Day.

The achievement is nothing to be sneered at, since Catanduanes is the only eighth province to be declared as such, along with 38 municipalities and four island towns.

Under the active leadership of Gov. Cua, the PRCC encouraged municipal and barangay councils to adopt laws regarding rabies prevention and responsible pet ownership while the Provincial Health Office, through identified barangay program coordinators for rabies, conducted surveillance of animal bite response and referred animal bite victims to the treatment centers. The strategy was implemented by workers who often have to contend with plain ignorance of the community, who sometimes had dog bites treated by herbal “doctors”, with rabid dogs ending up as “pulutan” among gin-drinking “tambays” as the governor put it succinctly in his message.

Indeed, the multi-sectoral campaign in the conduct of massive dog vaccination, neutering, observed implementation of local ordinances, surveillance, quarantine checkpoints among communities, and information and education campaign, made sure the province passed an evaluation by the national committee.

With rabies killing more than 200 Filipinos nationwide every year, the natonal government considers as critical success factors in the rabies elimination campaign the long-term political and social commitment, community engagement, sustainable vaccination of 70% of at-risk dog population, sufficient resources, promotion of vaccine banks, reaching out to remote and at-risk populations, conduct of performance measurements at all levels, and maintenance of trained and motivated personnel.

The Cua administration would be serving its constituents well if it follows the recommendations of the NPRCC in sustaining the gains made in the anti-rabies campaign.

What has yet to sink down to the citizenry, particularly dog and cat lovers, is the need to have their pets on leashes, undergo vaccination and regular treatment in case of illness, and for the local government units to implement a real, active campaign against stray animals, including a functional animal pound.

They should realize that it will take only one rabid dog or cat, slipping through quarantine checkpoints, to let loose the deadly virus in the local pet population, most of which are strays and thus highly susceptible to being infected.

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