Anti-rabies summit held

LAOAG CITY, Ilocos Norte, March 26 (PIA) – Representatives from government, non-government and media sectors from the four Region 1 provinces gathered here today for a summit to work on eliminating rabies by 2016.

According to the World Health Organization (WHO), rabies continued to be a public health problem in the Philippines as it remains responsible for 200 to 300 deaths of Filipinos every year.

In Region 1 for example, 48 dogs taken to the laboratory tested positive of rabies in 2014. Of the number, 73 percent or 36 cases were in Pangasinan and 25 percent or 12 cases were in La Union, the Bureau of Animal Industry records showed.

For 2015, four human deaths were recorded in Pangasinan alone for January.

The Global Alliance for Rabies Control (GARC), through the Community Against Rabies Exposure (CARE) Project has provided local support to the the Ilocos Region to help communities control and prevent rabies through inter-sectoral interventions and partnership.

GARC recognizes regional participation and initiatives as the key to a roadmap towards rabies-free communities.

Dr. Sarah Jayme, GARC senior veterinary manager, said rabies is now seen on the human side.

“We are hoping that if there are deaths, it should end on the animal side. We want the rabies cases to be controlled at the animal side and prevent it from spreading to humans,” she said.

Jayme said the government intends to expand the reporting network between provinces in Region 1.

“When there’s a bite case, there’s already a text brigade to the veterinary’s office so that we can go to the dog and confirm if it has rabies and prevent it from biting more people,” she added.

Jayme noted that of the dog bite incidents, 40 percent are children below 15 years old.

Dog bites soar during summer and the holiday season when children are out of school and have more contact with animals.

Stakeholders in the rabies prevention and control program such as the Department of Health (DOH), Department of Agriculture (DA), Bureau of Animal Industry (BAI) and local government units will join the summit.

Activities lined up include presentation of the national and regional rabies situation in humans and animals as well as the national plan to eliminate rabies by 2016.

Workshops will explore the needs and resources of each sector to create the roadmap for rabies elimination.

The activity, which gathered stakeholders in the rabies prevention and control program, was organized to share and learn various experiences of the different sectors in the provinces of Ilocos Norte, Ilocos Sur, La Union and Pangasinan for the elimination of rabies incidents. (Cristina Arzadon and Elsha Marie B. Soriano/PIA1-Pangasinan)