To commemorate World Rabies Day today, 28th September, 2022, the Nigerian Medical Association (NMA), through its committee on Neglected Tropical Diseases, says it will collaborate with the Nigerian Veterinary Medical Association to raise awareness of the challenges and control of rabies in Nigeria.
According to the NMA, the collaboration entails an improvement in the communication, and collaboration in the management, and control of animal and human rabies infection.
The NMA said working with the NVMA was in line with the one health approach, which it said will help in breaking the transmission of the infection and ensure there is no delay in presenting to the hospital or veterinary clinics.
This was contained in a joint statement released by the NMA and NVMA to commemorate the 2022 World Rabies Day, stressing that though rabies vaccines have been very helpful in reducing the death and complications associated with rabies, there are still obvious challenges with vaccine coverage in resource-poor settings.
The statement which signed by Chairman, National Committee on Neglected Tropical Diseases, NMA, Dr. Sebastine Oiwoh, and National Publicity Secretary, Nigerian Veterinary Medical Association, Dr.Gloria Daminabo respectively.
World Rabies Day is usually celebrated on September 28 every year to raise awareness on the elimination of the infection.
This year’s theme is ‘Rabies: One Health, Zero Death’ which highlights the connection of the environment with both people and animals.
The statement noted that rabies is a neglected tropical disease in the resource-poor settings and underserved communities of the world that is caused by the rabies virus.
The statement read in part, “This collaboration is also aimed at ensuring a better synchronization of records of animal and human rabies bites, as well as engender more collaborative research that will make information available for the populace on the control of rabies.
“One health will also foster better care of pets through appropriate and regular vaccination of pets that have been implicated in rabies infection.
“Better health care infrastructures aimed at bridging the gap in the socio-cultural practices and responses associated with dog bites, suspected rabid dogs, and humans bitten by rabid dogs.
“To prevent death, it is also important to emphasize more widespread dog vaccination in the attainment of 70 percent vaccine coverage by the World Health Organisation.
“A better and prompt clinical and laboratory-based diagnosis strengthened by more researches in humans and animals will also provide the needed data for better policy formulation, policy monitoring, and evaluation.”
The statement further disclosed that human rabies is mostly transmitted by a dog (94 per cent) through bites, scratches, or contact with fluids from open wounds.
It pointed out that the individual develops symptoms, and signs and could die if not quickly attended to.
The statement said, ” It has been reported to be responsible for the death of approximately 55,000 people annually. In Africa, rabies is responsible for over 21,476 human deaths per annum and 1.34 million disability-adjusted life years.
“The advent of rabies vaccines has been very helpful in reducing the death and complications associated with rabies, although there are still obvious challenges with vaccine coverage in resource-poor settings.
“Despite an estimated 10 million people receiving post-exposure prophylaxis, rabies accounts for about 3.7 million years of life lost and $8.6 billion in economic losses per year.
“This may not have been far from an inability to access these vaccines bearing the average cost of PEP that is roughly US$ 40, an amount that is unaffordable for many families who barely survive on US$ 1–2 per person daily.”
The statement noted that this year, a more holistic approach to the attainment of the 2030 target of the Sustainable Development Goal was adopted- the One health approach with the goal of zero deaths.
“One health approach is the transdisciplinary collaboration among human, animal, and environmental health experts in the diagnosis, management, and surveillance of zoonotic diseases that cut across these disciplines,” it added.