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September 28th is World Rabies Day
Rabies kills nearly 25 000 people every year in the WHO South-East Asia Region which accounts for 45% of global deaths caused by the disease. Over 1.5 billion people in the Region are at risk of rabies infection. Every year an estimated 4 million people take rabies preventive vaccines, mostly after dog bites. About 40% people exposed to dog bites are children in the age group of 5 to 15 years.
As of today, rabies has no cure. Eliminating rabies is an important public health goal. National strategies are needed for rabies elimination with the focus on increasing public awareness and making cost effective post-exposure vaccination available to all. Ensuring post-exposure rabies vaccination is available to all in an equitable manner, should be a key element of rabies elimination efforts. (Read: Your most common questions about rabies answered (Expert interview))
Communities have an important role to play in rabies elimination. Simple but important measures such as vaccinating pet dogs and cats against rabies, thoroughly washing dog bite wounds with soap and water, and taking rabies vaccination when exposed to bite of a rabid or suspected animal, will strengthen rabies elimination efforts. (Read: You could die due to the misconceptions about rabies!)
WHO is working together with Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations, World Organization for Animal Health and animal welfare organizations to implement a comprehensive rabies elimination programme in rabies endemic countries. Bangladesh, Bhutan, Sri Lanka and Thailand are already witnessing a decline in human rabies death after implementing mass dog vaccination campaigns in combination with dog population management and improving accessibility to post-exposure vaccination. (Read: Top 10 facts about rabies you didn t know)
The World Rabies Day this year focuses on making the elimination goal, set for 2020 in the WHO South-East Asia Region, a reality.
Image source: Getty images (Image for representational purpose only)
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