The Malawi Team on a Life-saving Mission

Post by

Jaigar O'Neill

November 13th 2020

With this year's momentous vaccination campaigns wrapping up and our rabies prevention lessons starting up again in schools, it's an extremely busy time for the Mission Rabies team in Malawi.

Vaccinating over 100,000 dogs

Across the city of Blantyre and surrounding districts in southern Malawi, our teams have been hosting outdoor, socially-distanced vaccination clinics to vaccinate as many dogs as possible, and ultimately, protect whole communities from disease. Even with the challenges of the global pandemic and the lack of international volunteers to support this year's campaign, our team has powered on and made it our biggest yet. In total, the team managed to vaccinate 102,375 dogs - over 16,000 more dogs than last year - and successfully reached at least 70% of the dog population in every area in which we work, ensuring that we've established herd immunity.

Resuming our life-saving lessons

Now with schools open post lockdown, our Education Officers have returned to delivering our life-saving lessons to children - those most at risk of being infected by rabies. Travelling across southern Malawi to primary schools in Blantyre, Chiradzulu, Zomba, Thyolo, and as far as the border of Mozambique, they're teaching children about rabies, dog bite prevention, and dog bite first aid. The knowledge that could one day save their life, or that of a loved one. As a preventive measure against COVID-19, these educational visits now involve our Educations Officers, and many of the students, wearing facemasks.

A rabies-free year for a remote clinic

The doctors and nurses in the small private clinic in CapeMaclear, just a three-hour drive from our base in Blantyre, have been recording dog bite incidents in people for years, and noting if the dogs causing the bites are vaccinated against rabies or not. In the past, several cases of human rabies have been presented to this remote clinic - patients they're helpless to do anything for. But this year, thanks to the intervenes of mass canine vaccination and education around rabies prevention, the medical staff has reported zero suspicious cases.

These interventions have not only protected these communities from disease but allowed medical staff to save more lives through better management of resources. Due to most dogs in CapeMaclear now being vaccinated as well as the clinic staff asking questions regarding the bite and following up on the dog for 10 days after the bite incident, vaccines that may have been used unnecessarily are now being saved for patients at risk of infection. This is very important in a country like Malawi, where there is only a limited supply of PEP.

To find out more about our global fight against rabies and how you can play your part, please click here