World Rabies Day 2020
FAO, OIE & WHO leaders announce collective effort to end human rabies deaths by 2030
28 September 2020, Rome/Paris/Geneva – A new United Against Rabies Forum aims to accelerate progress towards the elimination of human deaths from dog-mediated rabies by 2030. The disease continues to kill one person every nine minutes – almost half of them children.
The Forum, launched by the World Health Organization (WHO), the Food & Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO), & the World Organisation for Animal Health (OIE) – the global agencies responsible for human health, animal health & food & agriculture – will bring together partners across government institutions, human & animal & environmental health sectors, the private sector, civil society as well as research & academia. It aims to increase understanding of what policy & research work is required & improve coordination (including of resource mobilization) & information sharing between partners.
A new United Against Rabies Forum aims to accelerate progress towards the elimination of human deaths from dog-mediated rabies by 2030. The disease continues to kill one person every nine minutes – almost half of them children.
WHO Director-General, Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus said:
“We can only eliminate rabies in people if we do a better job of controlling it in dogs, & if we radically improve access to treatment & care – especially among the poor & marginalized groups who suffer the most from this horrible disease.”
FAO Director-General, QU Dongyu said:
“While the coronavirus pandemic poses unprecedented challenges to us all, we can & must turn disadvantage to advantage. We have an opportunity now to strengthen One Health collaboration & regional cooperation, particularly to improve animal health systems & surveillance. Collaborating on rabies is an excellent way to put those ideas into practice.”
OIE Director-General, Monique Eloit stressed the need for collaborative efforts against rabies:
“This is a disease we know how to beat, but there is no single solution. We have to work together, across human & animal health sectors & with affected communities. If we do, elimination is possible, & in the process, we will also be building stronger systems for the detection & control of other diseases.”
FAO, OIE & WHO are committed to operationalization of ‘One Health’, which promotes a policy approach that connects human, animal & environmental health interventions. In the case of rabies, this means coordinated investment in mass dog vaccination as a public health initiative alongside, improved surveillance & data collection as well as community awareness raising & ensuring access to affordable rabies treatment for humans (post exposure prophylaxis or PEP).
Up to 99 per cent of rabies cases in humans are caused by dog bites, & rabies control is seen as a ‘model’ disease for improving zoonotic disease control more broadly. However, investment in dog vaccination, rabies monitoring & surveillance systems remains low in most countries where rabies occurs.
Scientific research & field evidence show that mass dog vaccination campaigns that cover 70 per cent of the at-risk dog population can confer herd immunity against rabies & are the only real way to interrupt the disease’s infectious cycle between animals & humans. This can sharply reduce human rabies deaths as a result.