By Dr Gowri Yale BVSc&AH MS PhD, Scientific and Technical Manager - India
Mission Rabies was invited to participate at the WHO Rabies expert consultation meet in Bangkok from April 26th to 28th, 2017. As one of the organisations with a primary focus on dog rabies elimination, with practical field experience and research towards the same; our participation in this important event was consequential.
The WHO recommendations and guidelines on Rabies control prevention, bite management, pre and post exposure prophylaxis, risk assessment, rabies immunoglobulin administration, surveillance and reporting of rabies were to be updated and modified with new scientific evidence that has developed over the recent years.
The new WHO mandate “Elimination of Dog Mediated Rabies by 2030” has brought many countries together to bring an end to this dreadful disease. Rabies is clearly one of the most unfortunate deaths, not only is it 100% preventable by a vaccine; the trauma to the patient and their family is indescribable. To imagine a world without human rabies in your life time is overwhelming. The disease has existed for more than 4000 years. It is the oldest known zoonotic disease known to mankind and yet an estimated 50,000 people die of dog mediated rabies every year in the world.
This new mandate gives hope and zeal to work towards a human rabies free world. The mandate includes a self-certification for countries through WHO verification and validation to state themselves as “Rabies free”. With this trophy in site, I hope more countries are encouraged to include a practical and feasible ‘rabies control strategy' into their national programs.
As I observed the challenges of putting on paper a design that fits all; for developed and developing countries, rabies endemic countries and those close to elimination. I hoped more national resources would be directed towards an ideal scenario ‘Dog Rabies Free’ - The disease is eliminated from the group that maintains and circulates it. Maybe this day is closer than what we believe; with momentum towards human rabies elimination from the world and governments like Goa working towards dog rabies elimination and setting an example. We have hope.