Rabies fight hampered by funding shortage

Nakuru is vaccinating 10,000 dogs and cats; Africa has 100 million dogs, most unvaccinagted

In Summary

• Disease spread by bites of infected dogs, cats, rodents, bats. Africa has about 100 million dogs, mostly unvaccinated.

• If not treated right away with injections, rabies is usually fatal.

Stray dogs in Dagoretti South, Nairobi.
RABID DOGS: Stray dogs in Dagoretti South, Nairobi.

The goal of eradicating rabies worldwide by 2030 could be a pipe dream because of lack of financial support.

The disease kills more than 59,000 people every year and leaves 3.7 million with disabilities worldwide. About 160 people are known to die each day. Rabies is usually fatal if untreated immediately.

Setbacks in eradicating rabies emerged during the launch of a report 'All Eyes on Dogs' by World Animal Protection. It calls on governments to mass-vaccinate dogs, the biggest vector, saying that should be the focus.

World Rabies Awareness Day was on September 28.

The report says that the disease could be wiped out in 10 years if all stakeholders work together. It said funds should be channelled to mass vaccination of dogs.

Africa has about 100 million dogs, mostly unvaccinated.

Animal manager at WAP Dr Emily Mudoga said 50 per cent of the victims are children, mostly playing with dogs.

She said the focus has always shifted to human who are bitten by rabid dogs. But treatment is more costly than prevention, she said.

"Governments must scale-up domesting funding for mass dog vaccinations and make it the primary focus," Mudoga said.

She said globally about Sh6.3 billion was needed to eradicate the disease by 2030 in line with the UN Sustainable Development Goals.

A national rabies awareness programme is needed, Mudoga said.

(Edited by V. Graham)