|Deputy Minister of Agriculture and Rural Development Phùng Đức Tiến speaks at the meeting. — VNA/VNS Photo|
HÀ NỘI — Việt Nam targets to eliminate human deaths from rabies by 2030 under a draft National Program for Rabies Prevention during the 2022-2030 period.
At an online national conference jointly held by the ministries of Health and Agriculture and Rural Development on Tuesday, Deputy Minister of Health Nguyễn Xuân Tuyên said that rabies was still one of the deadliest infectious diseases in Việt Nam, besides the measles outbreak in 2014 and the current COVID-19 pandemic.
The event was held to assess the implementation of the National Program to Control and Moving Towards Eradication of Rabies during 2017-2021, and discuss the draft National Program for Rabies Prevention.
Rabies is a severe acute infectious disease caused by the rabies virus, which is transmissible from animals to humans. According to WHO, rabies infections have been recorded in 150 nations and territories, claiming 59,000 lives every year. Up to 95 per cent of fatalities from rabies are from Asia and Africa. Rabies infects 29 million people every year, costing US$8.6 billion in post-infection treatments.
Rabies is dangerous but can be prevented through vaccination for animals and people who were bitten by animals.
Deputy Minister of Agriculture and Rural Development Phùng Đức Tiến said with the remarkable efforts of the two ministries, along with the local governments and with the support of international organisations, Việt Nam had been implementing measures to enact the prevention of rabies nationally.
As a result, the number of rabies cases dropped an average of 12 cases each year during the 2017-2021 period in comparison with the 2011-2016 period.
As many as 23 out of 63 provinces recorded no cases of rabies over the last two years. However, every year there are still 500,000 Vietnamese bitten by cats or dogs.
The vaccination rates for dogs increased to 49.2 per cent but the current large number of dogs (7.5 million) still poses a high risk for rabies outbreaks in the future.
Fight for the future
Participants suggested rabies preventive methods, including vaccination for pets with a targeted rate of over 70 per cent each year, inoculating people at high risk and injecting anti-rabies serum for those bitten by dogs.
Tuyên said although the number of rabies-related deaths had been decreasing, it was not stable and the number of provinces with rabies had not dropped compared to the 2011-2016 period. These shortcomings were due to ineffective management of dogs as well as low vaccination rates for dogs and low public awareness of rabies.
The ministries of Health and Agriculture and Rural Development called for ministries, agencies and the community to take measures to effectively prevent rabies with the aim of eliminating human deaths from the disease by 2030, including increasing public awareness of rabies, improving management and vaccination for dogs and cats, and ensure that all dog-bitten people are vaccinated.
A meeting was held on the sidelines of the conference to mark the World Rabies Day 2021 with the theme: "Rabies: Facts not Fear". —VNS