Vaccination programme in Long An Province helps efforts to reach rabies-free status

April 21, 2024 - 16:00
A one-week STOP Rabies programme is providing free rabies vaccination for 6,500 dogs and cats in Đức Huệ District in the Cửu Long (Mekong) Delta province of Long An until Saturday (April 27).
A dog gets a rabies shot during a one-week vaccination programme held in Long An Province’s Đức Huệ District from April 20 to 27. — VNS Photo Nguyễn Diệp

LONG AN PROVINCE — A one-week STOP Rabies programme is providing free rabies vaccination for 6,500 dogs and cats in Đức Huệ District in the Cửu Long (Mekong) Delta province of Long An until Saturday (April 27).

The district People’s Committee in collaboration with German biopharmaceutical company Boehringer Ingelheim and Nông Lâm University in HCM City launched the programme for a fourth year on April 20 in an effort to achieve a rabies-free status.

This year the programme focuses on raising community awareness about the importance of rabies prevention through vaccination and education.

The company’s employees and 60 well-trained veterinary students from the university will support the vaccinations and educate people about the importance of rabies prevention.

Many activities will be organised to educate local primary students about rabies and raise awareness in the community about mass vaccination and rabies prevention.

Đinh Thị Phương Khanh, deputy director of the province Department of Agriculture and Rural Development, said the annual programme has so far provided 27,400 doses of vaccines.

"The vaccination programme has a positive impact, reducing the fatalities caused by rabies in dogs and cats and protecting people."

Thanks to the campaign, the percentage of vaccinated animals in the district has increased significantly in recent years, reaching 85 per cent last year, she said.

“This rate exceeds the WHO-recommended minimum vaccination rate of 70 per cent in at-risk areas to ensure effectiveness in preventing human rabies.”

Rabies is a severe acute infectious disease caused by the rabies virus, transmissible from animals to humans and fatal but preventable through vaccinations of animals and people bitten by animals.

According to WHO, some 59,000 people die annually of rabies worldwide.

In Việt Nam, the number of deaths from rabies reaches 70-100 a year.

The Ministry of Health has issued a warning to the public regarding the rising number of deaths from rabies.

There have been 22 deaths in the first two months of the year, a spike from the same period last year, according to a report by the ministry’s Department of Preventive Medicine.

The main reasons for rabies-related deaths in humans are lack of proper treatment, delayed vaccination, insufficient dosage, and incorrect procedures.

Việt Nam hopes to eliminate human deaths from dog-transmitted rabies by 2030 through a national programme for rabies control and elimination that began in 2022.

Experts and representatives from the Department of Animal Health, the Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Development, Nông Lâm University, and Boehringer Ingelheim Vietnam also organised the “Joining Hands To Eliminate Rabies” roundtable discussion.

Strategies to prevent rabies, enhance the effectiveness of rabies prevention measures and promote mass vaccination of dogs and cats were discussed.

Lê Quang Thông of Nông Lâm University said: “It is important to enhance vaccination rates, education and monitoring to establish herd immunity and elevate community awareness.”

A well-trained student from Nông Lâm University in HCM City supports the rabies vaccination programme targeted at dogs and cats in Long An Province. — VNS Photo Nguyễn Diệp

Torsten Hardge, head of Boehringer Ingelheim Animal Health Vietnam, said the company supports the goal of the Vietnamese Government to vaccinate 70 per cent of dogs and cats in the country in 2022-25.

Vaccination is a cost-effective human disease prevention method to eliminate rabies at its source and halt the virus's circulation, he said.

The ongoing rabies initiative in Đức Huệ aims to raise awareness, inspire communities to combat rabies and secure local to regional commitment for resource allocation, he said.

“By collaborating with local authorities, strategic partners, experts, and pet owners to prioritise rabies vaccination, education, and monitoring, we can make meaningful advances towards eliminating rabies and contributing to better health outcomes for animals and humans.”

Boehringer Ingelheim over 30 years of experience in rabies prevention and management across the three key pillars of vaccination, education and surveillance. — VNS