KARACHI: World Rabies Day is a global campaign to help prevent the spread of the world’s most fatal disease and this day received a boost in Karachi on September 28, 2019, when supporters pledged to take action in their neighborhoods.
World Rabies Day is being facilitated by the international charity, Global Alliance for Rabies Control, and the global series of events will culminate on September 28, 2019 – World Rabies Day.
This year’s World Rabies Day’s theme is Rabies: Vaccinate to Eliminate. The aim is to highlight the essential role of mass canine vaccination in rabies elimination. It also indicates the need for human vaccination to save lives in case of potential exposure to rabies.
The Rabies Free Karachi (RFK) program is committed to eliminating rabies by using the WHO, the World Organization for Animal Health (OIE), and the Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) approved methodology.
It is an endeavor of the Indus Hospital’s Research Center – a program that seeks to humanely control the street dog population through surgical sterilization and mass dog vaccination.
The RFK’s scale-up work has begun (covering regions in Ibrahim Hyderi, Korangi, Lyari, and Landhi) and it is optimistic about supporting its replication throughout Pakistan technically. The essence of this program is that it brings forward a team where veterinaries, animal rights activists, and a team of researchers collaborate effectively to impose the ‘One Health Approach.’
Pakistan, as a whole, and Karachi, in particular, reports a large number of dog bites from street dogs. Their efforts would ensure a reduction in the street dog population in the following years.
During the event, the RFK team spread awareness about rabies, its prevention, and treatment. It was followed by an address of the RFK core and field team members who spoke about their experiences; a dog-catching simulation was administered, and the surgical container was opened for inspection, where dogs are surgically sterilized.
In light of recent events of dog-culling by many governmental organizations, the RFK will pitch a humane and effective alternative of promoting kindness towards animals.
The RFK is now planning to extend the program to the rest of Karachi. The program is seeking support from the civil society and animal rightist organizations. This work is a step in the right direction to enable Pakistan to eliminate rabies by ultimately the global target year of 2030.
In connection with World Rabies Day, Executive Director, Jinnah Postgraduate Medical Centre (JPMC), Dr Seemin Jamali organized an awareness session for dog-bite victims as well as the JPMC’s medical staff at the Rabies Clinic in JPMC.
She said rabies is 99.9% fatal, but it is also 100% preventable. She stressed on the importance of vaccination to protect people from rabies-related deaths.
More than 122,000 dog-bite cases have been reported in Sindh from January 2019, till date out of which 22,000 were reported from Karachi. Fourteen people have succumbed to rabies-related complications due to the shortage of anti-rabiess vaccine (ARV) in the province.
Around 59,000 people die from rabies annually, with over 99% of these deaths occurring in Africa and Asia, as a result of being bitten by an infected dog. Up to 60% of all dog bites and rabies deaths occur in children under 15 years of age.