DINAGAT Islands was declared rabies-free province by the Department of Health and Department of Agriculture-Bureau of Animal Industry along with 10 other municipalities.
The declaration marked the Philippines' observation of World Rabies Day last September 28 and also heralded the week-long celebration of Animal Welfare up to October 4 (World Animal Day)
Declared rabies-free zones are seven municipalities from Dinagat Islands (Basilisa, Cagdianao, Dinagat, Libjo, Loreto, San, Jose and Tubajon. The municipalities of Agutaya and Balabac in Palawan also became rabies-free zones. In Batangas, the Municipality of Tingloy was also declared rabies-free.
Dr. Raffy Viray from the health department said they need to obtain at least P500 million budget for 2016 to cover the anti-rabies vaccination needs of all patients.
“We are pushing for more budget next year to fight rabies. We are five years away from the 2020 rabies-free Philippines target. We are halfway there, but sustaining the rabies-free status will be the harder part of the battle,” Viray told government officials gathered during the awarding of rabies-free zones.
Rabies from dog bites continues to be one of the leading cases of death in the country. On average, 200 to 300 Filipinos die from rabies each year. There are 400 animal bite centers nationwide.
The National Rabies Prevention and Control Committee, a multi-sectoral committee being chaired by the DA-BAI, is tasked to work on eliminating rabies while promoting animal welfare and preventing animal cruelty. The committee is also tasked to increase public awareness on the importance of vaccinating dogs against rabies.
The Global Alliance for Rabies Control (GARC) is urging countries to develop appropriate investment strategies to eliminate human rabies. The disease is mainly transmitted to humans through the bite of an infected dog and is widespread in low-income countries. Pilot programs have successfully demonstrated that elimination of rabies is achievable through mass dog vaccination campaigns, supported by improved access to post-exposure prophylaxis (post-bite treatment) to people immediately after a suspected dog-bite.
* Rabies is a major public health problem affecting mainly the rural poor and marginalized populations.
* Rabies to continues to kill around 59,000 people every year. Almost 40 percent of victims exposed to dog bites are children under the age of 15.
* Vaccinating 70 percent of dogs in rabies affected areas is sufficient to eliminate canine rabies worldwide, at a much lower cost than post-exposure medication.
* Over 95 percent of human cases of rabies are due to dog bites and, unlike many other diseases, the control methods and vaccines required to tackle this neglected disease are available.
* Vaccines have existed since Louis Pasteur successfully vaccinated 9-year-old Joseph Meister in Paris in 1885.
* Today, 160 people die every day from this horrific disease.
* World Rabies Day marks the anniversary of the death of Louis Pasteur.
Experts urge governments and international funders to get on board to eliminate human deaths from rabies and make rabies history.