Every dog must be vaccinated once every one or two years to help Ghana achieve immunity by 2030.
The critical proportion of all dogs that ought to be vaccinated is 70 per cent in order to break the dog-to-dog transmission of rabies.
Dr Franklin Asiedu-Bekoe, Director of Public Health at Ghana Health Service, disclosed these ahead of this year’s World Rabies Day celebration at a press briefing in Accra yesterday.
He said mass vaccination of dogs should be preceded by evidence-based research of the dog ecology, population numbers and transmission in Ghana.
“After this, adequate planning in strategy and logistics informed by policy is needed. All these must be done as quickly as necessary, considering the exigencies of the times. Community engagement and participation is key in assuring success of set targets in mass dog vaccination,” he stated
Dr Bekoe said this year’s celebration would be held on the theme “One Health, Zero Deaths” to coincide with a recent record of cases of human rabies in the Ashanti Region of Ghana, saying “the one health approach is an intersectoral collaboration between institutions concerned with human health, animal health and environment health.”
“Rabies is considered a proxy for One Health because it has the human, animal and environmental components. This year, we want to remind ourselves of the One Health strategies and approaches, the systems, institutions and other resources we will fall on, and what our objectives ought to be from now till the next celebration” he stated.
He said from May 21 to 25, 2018, relevant stakeholders met to develop the current Ghana Rabies Control and Prevention Action Plan (2018-2030) whose goal was to use the ‘One Health Approach’ to control rabies in Ghana.
The plan he said highlighted prevention and control of rabies, data collection and analysis, laboratory diagnosis, dog population management, information, education and communication, intersectoral collaboration and legislation.
Dr Bekoe pleaded with all relevant stakeholders to collaborate to drive progress towards “Zero human deaths from dog-mediated rabies by 2030.”
Dr Patrick Abakeh, Acting Chief Veterinary Officer said human vaccines were expensive and that it was currently estimated to cost USD$4,087,970 annually.
For him, every exposed person who received a PEP vaccine, 50 dogs could have been vaccinated at the same cost, adding that in the hierarchy of importance of control of rabies , vaccinating dogs came first, followed by vaccinating exposed humans.
Dr Abakeh called for the resource of the Veterinary Service Directorate (VSD) to be able to deal with zoonotic diseases as Ghana, together with other countries in the sub region, were endemic to rabies which is a Neglected Tropical Zoonosis.
Dr Guyo Guracha , a representative from World Health Organisation, said his outfit regularly updated and disseminated technical guidance on rabies, for example epidemiology, surveillance, diagnostics, vaccines, safe and cost-effective immunisation , control and prevention strategies for human and animal rabies, operational programme implementation and palliative care for human rabies patients.
Benjamin M.Adjei, Assistant Food and Agriculture Organisation Representative of the United Nations, added that Rabies had a significant impact on lives and livelihoods, particularly in developing countries in Africa, Asia and Latin America and that the poor and marginalised communities were most heavily impacted as they often could not afford treatment or transport for care.
BY BENEDICTA GYIMAAH FOLLEY