The National anti-rabies campaign launched in Makueni county in September 2014 lives on four years later, if the progress seen in county is anything to go by.
Five counties-Siaya, Kisumu, Homa Bay, Kitui, Machakos, and Makueni-were selected for piloting the mass dogs vaccination campaign targeting more than 70 percent of dog population overage annually for three consecutive year. The piloting comes to a close this year.
Zoonotic dogs unit says rabies kill at least 2000 Kenyans annually. The disease is transmitted by infected dog bites and has no cure.
The county's fisheries and livestock chief officer Martin Mboloi says the county has vaccinated a total of 230,000 dogs in the county through its annual mass vaccination drives.
“This represents about 64 percent of the dog population in the county, making us edge closer to the target,” he said.
“Soon after the launch of the drive here, the county secured partnership with organizations in the animal and human health sector and this has given boost to the campaign, particularly focusing on responsible animal (dog) ownership,” he added.
The chief officer said the county has invested Sh. 8 million and partnering organizations injected Sh. 24 million making the devolved unit edging closer to being declared human-mediated rabies free.
World Animal protection, one of the partnering organizations in the drive, has committed a total of Sh. 20 million. Mboloi says the animal welfare outfit has renewed this year's funding for the programme.
He added that the department of livestock and fisheries is working on a bill that will make responsible animal ownership mandatory, requiring that locals have their dogs vaccinated annually and have a certificate for it.
Emily Mudoga, the animal in community campaigns manager at World Animal Protection said the success of the county stemmed “from the bottom -up approach of the county in decision making.”
“Much of the activities in the campaign invested a lot in the people; reaching out to them and educating them on proper dog husbandry,” she said, adding that this made people value their animals, seeing them as part of their socioeconomic dynamics.
“This made the people of Makueni own the drive,” Mark Matheka, the county's veterinary officer, said.
Matheka added that the county has vet officers on standby for calls by the local population to attend to any case and also to teach them on proper dog handling.
Matheka said the county government has made the anti-rabies campaign broad based, involving the departments of human health and Education among others.
“We involve the teachers in the drive, to teach children about responsible animal ownership, and so the message has cascaded to society. We also involve village elders,” said.
“Even cases of dogs wandering in the local villages and Wote town has reduced drastically. People also no longer beat up their animals as was the case before,” he said.
Joseph Mutui, 58, a resident of Kathonzweni area in the county and a dog owner said he is a beneficiary of the mass anti-rabies vaccination and that the programme has made people more friendly to the domestic animals. He said he helps in mobilizing the people to respond to the mobilization drives.
“My dog, Bruno, is a friend,” he said. “I even became a community health volunteer as part of this mass anti-rabies campaign,” he added.
Bernadette Koki, a retired civil servant and a resident said her mother almost died of rabies in 1998 and hence takes the county government's anti-rabies campaign seriously.