Kenya launches National Committee to eliminate Rabies by 2030


 

Kenya has launched the National Rabies Elimination Coordination Committee to oversee efforts to control and eliminate rabies.

Earlier this month on August 5th, the National Rabies Elimination Coordination Committee (NRECC) Launch was held. This committee is part of Stage 1 of the Rabies Elimination strategy which entails the planning of implementation of rabies elimination activities in pilot counties.

The NRECC’s purpose is simple –  to bring together different sectors within government, non-government organizations, teaching and research institutions, international partners and the public to aid in rabies elimination efforts. This launch therefore signified the official start of collaborative efforts to oversee efforts to control and eliminate rabies with the vision of eliminating the deadly disease in Kenya by 2030.

The launch was well attended by Kenyan government representatives from the Ministry of Health and Ministry of Agriculture, Livestock and Fisheries as well as various other stakeholders from relevant organizations that are key to ensuring the success of rabies elimination efforts.

An important remark by the Director of Medical Services, Dr. Jackson Kioko, was the need to kick rabies out of Kenya by ensuring that vaccines are available at the grassroots level. This is especially important for Rabies is a neglected disease that mostly affects the poor and vulnerable populations. His remarks are in line with the strategy’s main principle which is quite straightforward: vaccinate at least 70% of the dog population each year – for at least three years – to ensure the disease is eliminated, in dogs, humans and wildlife.

With NRECC launched now, we hope to systematize Rabies control and elimination efforts in the country. Though it is a long journey ahead, we are determined to ensure that Kenya is Rabies Free by 2030.

For more information on the National Rabies Elimination Strategy, visit www.zdukenya.org.

 

Launch of the National Rabies Elimination Coordination Committee on August 5th 2016

Launch of the National Rabies Elimination Coordination Committee on August 5th 2016

My first encounter with Rabies

My first encounter with rabies is one that affected a family member and will forever be etched in my mind. In 2011, Priscilla, my grandmother, was lucky to have her 7 year old nephew, Edgar*, visit her family.  One evening during his stay, he was unfortunately bitten by Priscilla’s dog. No one thought the bite was serious, therefore no proper wound care was done and no hospital visit was made for post exposure vaccination. Days later, Edgar exhibited excitation symptoms including attempts to bite other children.  The dog developed aggressive behaviors including eating her puppies before it died. Edgar developed complications and was rushed to hospital but died a day after admission.

There are many questions that come to mind when thinking of how Edgar’s life was cut short by rabies.

  • Did they not seek appropriate treatment due to lack of awareness or ignorance?
  • Was it possible to prevent his death from rabies?
  • What does the community know and perceive about rabies?
  • What is the role of the national and county government, non-governmental organizations as well as the community in effective rabies prevention and control?

In my opinion, every individual has a role to play in rabies prevention and control. Rabies is 100% preventable by vaccination in both humans and animals. Mass dog vaccination and responsible dog ownership can reduce the rate of rabies infection in endemic areas, preventing human cases of rabies. This is not possible without information dissemination to the communities on rabies prevention and control geared towards elimination.

Edgar’s death should serve as an example of the need of more efforts geared towards rabies prevention and control. It is possible to have a RABIES FREE Kenya.

 

By Dr. Josephine Nekura Ndiwa

Note – Edgar’s name was changed for privacy.

For more information on rabies elimination activities in Kenya, visit ZDU

Dr. Ndiwa is a veterinarian by profession. She is undertaking her Msc. in Epidemiology at the Institute of Tropical Medicine and Infectious diseases, Jomo Kenyatta University of Agriculture and Technology (JKUAT). She is currently involved with Dog Ecology work with the Zoonotic Disease Unit.