‘United Against Rabies’ collaboration celebrates one year of progress towards zero human rabies deaths by 2030
28 September 2019 | Geneva | Manhattan | Paris | Rome −− Since the launch of ‘Zero by 30’ in 2018, the United Against Rabies collaboration has made progress to empower, engage and enable countries to reach the rabies elimination goal by 2030. Released today on World Rabies Day, the first annual progress report describes the incremental, collaborative impact of the four partners2 in promoting the One Health approach1 and achieving the three objectives of the Global Strategic Plan.
In just the past sixteen months, over 2 million doses of quality-assured dog rabies vaccines were delivered to 133 countries in Asia and Africa; more than 450 health professionals were trained in 70 out of 89 countries where human rabies occurs and more than 200 education and awareness events were held in 62 countries.
Facilitating access to vaccines, medicines and education
In addressing the first objective of the Plan: Eliminate rabies by effective use of vaccines, medicines, tools and technologies, the UAR collaboration enabled the implementation of concrete actions in countries aimed at tackling rabies at its source: infected dogs. In 2018, these efforts included:
- Increasing access to high-quality dog rabies vaccines, by delivering more than 2 million doses to 13 countries in Asia and Africa, through the OIE Rabies Vaccine Bank;
- Improving care for dog bite cases with potential human rabies exposure, by convening training for more than 450 health professionals in 70 of the 89 countries in which human rabies occurs, delivered by WHO and other UAR partners.
- Enhancing rabies education and awareness through World Rabies Day webinars organized by FAO and other UAR partners, as well as almost 200 events on World Rabies Day registered on the GARC website from 62 countries, attracting significant exposure through printed, digital and social media channels. Capacity-building workshops in communications were also delivered by the OIE.
Providing countries with clear guidance, policies and monitoring tools
To escalate the scope of actions, the group provides policy guidance for effective governance frameworks for rabies elimination. Over the past sixteen months, this work included:
- updating technical manuals and standards by OIE and WHO to harmonize guidance across the animal and human health sectors;
- conducting an assessment of progress towards rabies elimination by regional rabies networks in more than 67 countries. The result of which shows that 12 countries have already generated comprehensive/revised national action plans; and
- facilitating uptake of in-country training activities in 14 countries along with other training and FAO proficiency testing, which led to 80 countries reporting a nationally endorsed framework for rabies elimination.
The UAR collaboration is supporting harmonization of data to improve global monitoring with plans to connect WHO, OIE and GARC data platforms. In addition, a new tool for evaluating rabies activities is being developed for in-depth and detailed data analysis.
Sustaining countries’ commitment and resources
Community engagement, political commitment and coordination among the main actors are essential to eliminate rabies as evidenced by recent progress.
Since 2018, the UAR collaboration has advanced its engagement with the global rabies community and individual countries and commitment to ‘Zero by 30’ has steadily increased; this effort must continue.
The UAR collaboration has identified 60 development partners and is striving to engage all stakeholders in the rabies community, including government institutions, non-state actors, academia, international organizations and individual countries. Coordinated efforts in global and national advocacy and investment have already contributed to building trust amongst donors.
The progress achieved since 2018 is encouraging. The challenge is to continue strengthening grassroot community support at subnational and national levels and sustain political commitment to free every country from human deaths due to dog-mediated rabies.
1The World Health Organization (WHO); the World Organisation for Animal Health (OIE); the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO) and the Global Alliance for Rabies Control (GARC).
2The tripartite (FAO, OIE, WHO) recognizes in the “One Health” approach, that the health of people is connected to the health of animals and the environment. They have identified rabies as one of the three priorities to showcase the importance of multi-sectoral collaboration for effective risk management.
3Benin, Eritrea, Indonesia, Kenya, Lesotho, Malaysia, Myanmar, Namibia, Philippines, Singapore, Togo, Tunisia and Zimbabwe.
About « Zero by 30 »
Rabies is entirely preventable, and vaccines, medicines, tools and technologies have long been available to prevent people from dying of dog-mediated rabies. Nevertheless, rabies still kills about 60 000 people a year, of whom over 40% are children, mainly in rural areas of economically disadvantaged countries in Africa and Asia. Of all human cases, up to 99% are acquired from the bite of an infected dog.
The Global Strategic Plan, launched in June 2018, targets rabies reservoir in dogs and aligns efforts to prevent human rabies and to strengthen animal and human health systems. The Plan puts countries at the centre, with renewed international support to make the social changes required, through a pragmatic approach with three objectives:
- Objective 1: Eliminate rabies by effective use of vaccines, medicines, tools and technologies;
- Objective 2: Generate, innovate and measure the impact of rabies control measures, provide guidance, effective policies and governance, and generate reliable data for effective decision-making;
- Objective 3: Sustain countries’ commitment and resources.
By implementing the Plan, affected countries will move a step closer to Sustainable Development Goal (SDG) 3.3, “By 2030, end the epidemics of neglected tropical diseases”, and make progress towards meeting SDG 3.8 on achieving universal health coverage.
WHO: Ashok Moloo, (+41) 079 540 5086, firstname.lastname@example.org
FAO: Adel Sarkozi, (+39) 06 570 52537, email@example.com
OIE: Catherine Bertrand-Ferrandis, (+33) 6 16 46 28 90, firstname.lastname@example.org
GARC: Kim Doyle, (+44) 07453 099 399, email@example.com