September 29, 2023

4.6b people at risk of rabies infection – WMA

4.6b people at risk of rabies infection – WMA

… Advocate incorporation of disease education in school curricula

By Chioma Obinna

With 4.6 billion people at risk of rabies infection, the World Veterinary Association, WVA, and the World Medical Association, WMA, have called for the incorporation rabies education within the school curricula.

According to them, rabies, is a global threat endangering approximately 4.6 billion people and poses a significant threat, with children disproportionately affected.

The medical associations explained that rabies, particularly, when transmitted through dog bites, predominantly impacts marginalised populations in resource-poor regions.

They said: “Tragically, a large majority of these fatalities could be prevented if more than 70 percent of dogs were vaccinated, and if prompt wound washing and post-exposure treatment were administered to bite victims.

“While the tools to combat rabies are readily available, their effective implementation remains a challenge.”

They further added that by imparting knowledge to children about the risks associated with rabies and the essential preventive measures, the world can empower the next generation to safeguard themselves and their communities.

Speaking, the President of the World Medical Association, Dr. Osahon Enabulele stated that this year’s World Rabies Day theme ‘All for 1, One Health for All’ is an apt reminder that a comprehensive strategy is imperative to prevent human rabies deaths.

“This strategy encompasses increased public awareness, effective risk communication, and, crucially, the education of communities and professionals about rabies,” he added.

Also, speaking, the President of the World Veterinary Association, Dr. Rafael Laguens said that it was essential to raise awareness among decision-makers in all countries of the need to accurately and reliably report rabies data, as requested by international organisations such as WHO or WOAH.

“So, it will be necessary to take action to “educate” politicians as well, since without the appropriate decisions to obtain this data, it will be impossible to eradicate rabies efficiently, a lethal disease that is entirely preventable.”

This year’s World Rabies Day continues to underscore the pivotal role of education in eradicating dog-bite-transmitted rabies. The ultimate objective remains the elimination of this deadly disease by 2030, as outlined in the ‘Zero by 30 plan’ by WHO, OIE, FAO and GARC.

The WVA and the WMA are confident that prioritising education through a One Health approach and community health strategies will pave the way for a future free from rabies.

The rabies virus causes a rabies infection. The virus spreads through the saliva of infected animals. Also, infected animals can spread the virus by biting another animal or a person. In rare cases, rabies can be spread when infected saliva gets into an open wound or the mucous membranes, such as the mouth or eyes.