Ministerial address : Deputy Minister of Land, Agriculture, Water, Climate and Rural Resettlement of Zimbabwe Hon. Vangelis Peter Haritatos. Picture © Zimbabwe Department of Veterinary Services (DVS) 2019.
As the old adage says: “prevention is better than cure” – nowhere is this more true than in the case of rabies – a viral, zoonotic, incurable and fatal disease of mammals including humans. More than 95% of human rabies cases are due to bites from infected dogs. Children are the major victims – 40% of children bitten by suspected rabid animals are under 15 years old.
Eradicating rabies should start at its animal source, through vaccination, awareness creation and responsible dog ownership. Mass vaccination of dogs is the most practical and cost effective method of controlling the disease. By vaccinating 70% of the dogs, rabies could be eradicated in dogs and the number of human cases would rapidly drop.
The OIE has vaccine banks for rabies (and other diseases of strategic importance) – these are high quality vaccines, produced under good manufacturing practices conforming to requirements of the OIE Manual. These can be donated/offered at subsidised to MC, on a case by case basis.
Group photograph with the guests of honour. Picture © Zimbabwe Department of Veterinary Services (DVS) 2019.
This year, three countries in southern Africa being Lesotho (50,000 doses), Zimbabwe (110,000 doses) and Madagascar (100,000 doses) received rabies vaccine from the OIE, as its contribution towards global eradication of dog mediated rabies.
Therefore on the 18th September 2019, the OIE Sub-regional Representative for Southern Africa, on behalf of the OIE Director General, Dr Monique Eloit, handed-over 110,000 doses of rabies vaccine to the Government of Zimbabwe. The vaccine was received by the Deputy Minister of Land, Agriculture, Water, Climate and Rural Resettlement of Zimbabwe Hon. Vangelis Peter Haritatos, in the presence of Deputy Ambassador of the European Union (EU) in Zimbabwe, H.E. Thomas von Handel, senior Government Officials, and representatives from WHO and CIRAD.
The Minister thanked the OIE and the European Union (through the SVSDC+R Project) for the donation of the 110,000 doses of rabies vaccine. He said that rabies is endemic in Zimbabwe and that this donation will assist in boosting their existing rabies control efforts. He confirmed that the vaccine will be used and that Government will avail more resources towards rabies control.
All pictures © Zimbabwe Department of Veterinary Services (DVS) 2019, except when mentioned otherwise.