Ghana to commemorate World Rabies Day on September 28

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Accra, Sept. 26, GNA – Ghana will on September 28, join the global community to commemorate the 13th edition of the World Rabies Day, 2019 under the theme: “Rabies: Vaccinate to Eliminate”.
This year’s theme is to highlight the essential role of mass vaccination in rabies elimination.
Mr Robert Patrick Ankobiah, Acting Chief Director of the Ministry of Food and Agriculture, speaking on behalf of the Minister, said government has selected rabies as one of the neglected zoonotic disease for close surveillance.
World Rabies Day is an international awareness campaign coordinated by the Global Alliance for Rabies Control.
He said many of the deaths affect residents in farming communities with farmers and their children as victims.
He said there is the need to work closely to fight the rabies challenge by creating awareness on the disease.
“Ghana can win the fight against the disease through awareness creation, law enforcement and regular vaccination of dogs,” he said.
Mr Ankobiah said the country has drafted the National Rabies Strategy with support from the Food and Agriculture Organisation (FAO) to achieve a free rabies status.
He said with dedication, commitment and a common sense of purpose, “We will achieve the fight against the menace.”
Dr Abebe Haile-Gabriel, Assistant Director-General and FAO Representative to Ghana, said vaccination is the key fundamental control measure to eliminate rabies by 2030 as envisaged by “United Against Rabies 2030” lead by the Global Action for Rabies Control.  
He said with a five-year continuous vaccination campaign programme and with a vaccination coverage of 70 per cent throughout Ghana, rabies could be eliminated in the country by 2030.
He said traditionally, the prevention and control measures against rabies has been the focus of only the Veterinary Services Directorate in the country and rabies vaccination campaign has been largely fragmented and uncoordinated among ministries, departments, agencies and non-governmental organizations in the country.
Dr Haile-Gabriel said with the One Health approach, key ministries like Food and Agriculture, Health, Local Government and Rural Development, Environment, Science, Technology and Innovation are working together to ‘coordinate, collaborate and communicate for the prevention and control of rabies at the national, regional, district and community levels.
“Each of these ministries has specific roles and responsibilities to play towards rabies elimination in the country in line with its ministerial mandate,” he said.
He said vaccination to eliminate rabies was possible and could practically be implemented since there is already the “Ghana Rabies Control and Prevention Work Plan (2018-2030)”, prepared in 2018.
He said, “We are celebrating World Rabies Day 2019, knowing that rabies is 99.9 per cent fatal, but it is also 100 per cent preventable and eliminating the disease by vaccinating dogs protects them and stops the transmission to people.”
Dr Owen Kaluwa, WHO Representative for Ghana, said human rabies is an endemic, aged-old disease on the African continent, causing preventable mortalities in Ghana as in other African countries.
He said it was heart-warming to learn that Ghana has a draft work plan towards the achievement of the global target of rabies elimination by 2030.
He said over the past year the WHO and its partners have been supporting government in the development of a One Health policy for the country, which seeks to promote and institutionalise multi-sectoral collaboration between key sector Ministries, NGOs and research institutions.
Mr Franklyn Asiedu-Bekoe, Director of Disease Control, Ghana Health Service, said rabies from dogs and cats has become a public health threat for the Ministry of Health, yet it was a 100 per cent vaccine preventable disease.
He said with the commemoration of the Day, there must be responsible dog ownership; leadership at the Veterinary Services Directorate and the Ghana Health Service; and the Ministry of Health must ensure easy access and availability of the anti-rabies vaccines.
He said risky dog bites should be prevented at every cost and when it happens, there is a second opportunity of post exposure prophylaxis, which all prescribers and health staff must pay attention to and manage as appropriate.
This year’s event will be held at Sunyani in the Brong-Ahafo Region

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