The vision of having a Rabies Free Kenya is currently underway, with the National Rabies Elimination Strategy officially launched in the second county in Kenya. Following Makueni’s footsteps, Siaya’s recent launch of the County and Sub-County Rabies Elimination Coordination Committees is a step in the right direction. This progressive step embraces the importance of collaborative efforts aimed at rabies elimination and signifies the importance of adopting One Health based strategies.
Prior to the launch, a dog ecology study was conducted to understand the epidemiology, ecology and population of dogs as well as the knowledge, attitudes and practices of both owners and non-owners of dogs. The survey composed of two parts as recommended by the World Health Organization. The first section was primarily on demographic information for both dog and non-dog owners. The second section touched on various topics such as dog management and care, household dog population, vaccination status of dogs and dog bite information.
Sample questionnaires will soon be available and will aid interested researchers to develop their studies in a manner that is both culturally and scientifically appropriate. These tools were adopted from the Canine Rabies Blue print which provides example tools utilized in KwaZulu-Natal where like Kenya, the domestic dog is the primary host and vector that maintains the rabies virus.
The data for the study is currently being critically analyzed and will aid in the development of Rabies related interventions in Siaya and other counties.
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.