Driving progress towards rabies elimination: results of Gavi’s learning agenda on rabies and new WHO position on rabies immunization
Meeting report 1‒3 May 2018, Kathmandu, Nepal
Rabies is one of the oldest and most terrifying diseases known to man and is still responsible for almost 60 000 deaths every year. Up to 99% of human cases are transmitted through dog bites. Most human deaths occur in Africa and Asia; approximately 80% of cases occur in rural areas, and around 40% of cases occur in children under the age of 15. Although it is fatal, rabies is preventable through three pillars:
- Awareness of rabies disease, and what to do in case of a bite;
- Access to timely, affordable post-exposure prophylaxis (PEP) for people; and
- Mass dog vaccination to prevent disease at its source.
The tools for prevention exist: we need to work with countries to show value in interventions, build ownership, and reach communities most at risk. Since 2016, the Gavi Learning Agenda has provided an opportunity for countries to gather programmatic experiences and necessary data to support consideration of rabies vaccines in the 2018 Gavi Vaccine Investment Strategy (VIS). In May 2018, participating countries gathered to:
- Disseminate new SAGE recommendations on human rabies immunization;
- Discuss results of studies under the Gavi Learning Agenda on rabies; and
- Determine needs and next steps to reach zero human deaths by 2030, worldwide “Zero by 30”.