Professor Albert Ogun-koya, president of Rabies in West Africa (RIWA), has appealed to governments in the West African sub-region to make budgetary allocations for the prevention and eradication of the rabies disease.
He expressed worry over the increasing number of deaths recorded annually, and warned that until policy makers made the fight against rabies a priority, more lives would be lost to the disease.
Prof. Ogunkoya made the appeal at a three-day international conference on RIWA in Accra.
He said about 200 cases in dogs, cats, goats and sheep were recorded annually, with a significant number of deaths.
Prof. Ogunkoya observed that about 80 per cent of rabies victims were children below 15 years in poor communities and urged the intensification of education.
According to him, prevention and elimination of the viral disease required a holistic and scientific approach to quarantining and vaccinating rabid animals.
Currently, he said the World Health Organisation considered West Africa as a neglected region because of lack of access to vaccination and treatment.
The Deputy Minister of Agriculture in charge of Livestock, Dr. Hanna Bisiw, expressed concern over unreported cases of rabid bites especially in the rural areas, and said the ministry was supporting campaigns in the country to reduce the number of cases.
Dr. Bisiw suggested introduction of new vaccines and awareness creation among children to avoid being bitten by dogs.
Nigeria’s Minister of Health, Professor Isaac Folorunso Adewole, in a speech read on his behalf, cited unknown number of dogs, lack of cooperation between veterinary and medical doctors, lack of laboratories and socio-cultural perception about vaccinations as hindrance to the fight against rabies.
Rabies is a viral disease found in mammals, most often transmitted to humans through the bite of infected animals.
The disease manifests as acute meningo encephalitis which if not treated result in death.
By Malik Sullemana