September 8 is World Rabies Day
by Bennie A. Recebido
Sorsogon Province (September 7) -- With the hope of reducing the global burden of rabies-related incidences, the Alliance for Rabies Control and the World Health Organization (WHO) declared the observance of September 8 as 'World Rabies Day'.
This year's theme delved on "Working Together to Make Rabies History".
The two agencies concerted efforts through the Department of Agriculture to increase public awareness and educate them on the dangers and fatal effect of rabies worldwide, with 55,000 people died of animal bites, mostly children below 15 years old.
Sorsogon history reveals that in 1990, about 269 persons were reportedly bitten by dogs, with 6 human deaths, the highest number of incidences ever noted in the province. This incidence brought the passage of Resolution No. 81, enacting Provincial Ordinance No. 24, otherwise known as Anti-Rabies Ordinance and thereby creating the Provincial Anti-Rabies Committee in the year 1991.
Two years after, a group of veterinarians from the Research Institute for Tropical Medicine (RITM)- DOH, formulated and implemented a province-wide Anti-Rabies mass vaccination. The program covered seventy-three percent (73%) of the total dog population in the province, resulting to a three-year period rabies free Sorsogon.
However, due to the province's budgetary constraint, said program was not sustained. In 2003, the DA-Bureau of Animal Industry declared the province of Sorsogon along with Camarines Norte as rabies infected areas in the Bicol Region.
On May 25, this year, President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo signed into law RA 9482 known as Anti-Rabies Act of 2007 which provides for the control and elimination of human and animal rabies, prescribes penalties for its violation and appropriates P100M fund for its implementation.
In an interview, Provincial Veterinarian Dr. Enrique Espiritu, took pride in saying that Sorsogon province has now the lowest rate of rabies incidences in the entire Bicol region noting three human cases from year 2006 to present.
However, Espiritu said, we can't afford to just sit on our laurels calling on dog owners to leash or confine their pet dogs, have them registered, vaccinated and sprayed or castrated.
He, likewise, recommended the LGUs to enjoin, pass and enforce local ordinances on dog population and movement control, maintain dog pounds and allocate funds for the purchase of animal and human vaccines and other materials needed to sustain its operation.
Espiritu expressed his disappointment vis-à-vis the non-publication of a resolution enacting an ordinance which amends Provincial Ordinance No. 24, as amended by Provincial Ordinance No. 04, S. 1993. "This could have helped strengthen the provincial anti-rabies campaign, but its non-publication 15 days after it was approved last year, would nullify its implementation," Espiritu lamented.
Sorsogon Governor Sally A. Lee, meanwhile, pledges full support to the program, and shed optimism on the public's awareness of the threats brought about by the deadly rabies.
She also appealed to dog owners to take part in the program implementation by being responsible and tag along related policies and laws particularly the anti-rabies law. (PIA Sorsogon) [top]