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Pan American Health Organisation Launches Rabies Elimination Program In Haiti

A dog being vaccinated in Haiti, Photo credit: PAHO.

Pan American Health Organisation Launches Rabies Elimination Program In Haiti

PORT AU PRINCE, Haiti, December 16, 2019 (CMC) – The Pan American Health Organization (PAHO) said, today, it had launched a vaccination campaign to accelerate action towards eliminating human rabies, transmitted by dogs, in the French-speaking Caribbean country.

PAHO said the campaign had been launched, in collaboration with the Pan-American Center for Foot-and-Mouth Disease and Veterinary Public Health (PANAFTOSA), and in partnership with Ministry of Agriculture, Natural Resources and Rural Development. The World Bank is providing financial support to the project, which aims to vaccinate all dogs in Haiti, over a two week duration.

The campaign slogan is “Let’s vaccinate all dogs to get rid of rabies”. Teams of trained vaccinators will be working throughout Haiti, targeting street dogs and household pets. Members of the public are also invited to bring their own dogs to be vaccinated, free of charge.

“Vaccinating dogs is essential to breaking the cycle of transmission of the disease to humans. The success of this campaign will ensure the reduction of cases in Haiti, and bring us one step closer to eliminating the disease in the Americas; as Haiti is one of the last countries, where there are registered cases,” said Ottorino Cosivi, Director of PANAFTOSA.

PAHO said rabies causes 60,000 deaths each year, mainly in Asia and Africa. In Latin America and the Caribbean, new cases of rabies were reduced by more than 95 percent in humans and 98 percent in dogs, since 1983.

“This latest initiative is part of urgent efforts to concentrate vaccination campaigns where they are needed the most, so that human rabies, transmitted by dogs, can be eliminated from the region by 2022.  Human rabies, transmitted by dogs, is one of the priorities of the PAHO Elimination Initiative, which aims to eliminate from the Region several communicable diseases and related conditions,” PAHO said.

It added that over the next two weeks, it is hoped that 600,000 dogs will be vaccinated, representing the whole estimated canine population.

“Given the delicate context in Haiti, getting this campaign up and running has presented us with some huge challenges,” said Luis Felipe Codina, PAHO/WHO Representative in Haiti.

“Thanks, however, to political will, the efforts of the PAHO/WHO country team, the Ministry of Agriculture and PANAFTOSA, we are confident that these actions will lead to great outcomes for the Haitian people, and will contribute to the elimination of human rabies, transmitted by dogs” he added.

A mass communication campaign has also been launched on radio, social media, and in public places to encourage members of the public to get involved, and to raise awareness of the need to eliminate human rabies, transmitted by dogs.

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