Dog vaccine

Rabies Free Africa celebrates World Rabies Day by hitting 2.5 million vaccinated dogs

Boys attending a vaccination clinic in Tanzania with their dogs.

Dr. Felix Lankester, Director of Rabies Free Tanzania

ARUSHA, TANZANIA, Sept. 27, 2022 / — The Paul G. Allen School for Global Health at Washington State University today announced that the Rabies Free Africa (RFA) program has reached the milestone of 2.5 million rabies vaccines distributed.

World Rabies Day reminds the global community that rabies, a completely preventable disease, continues to kill more than 50,000 people, mostly children, every year. Since 2003, RFA has worked with African governments to strengthen local partnerships and has made tremendous strides towards eliminating rabies as a threat to human health.

The program is structured around mass dog vaccination campaigns that eliminate rabies not only in dogs but also in humans, livestock and wildlife. Since the start of the programme, there have been no cases of canine rabies in endangered wildlife in Serengeti National Park. Prior to these efforts, wildlife outbreaks occurred regularly.

“Our ability to do this crucial work is due to the excellent working relationship with the Tanzanian government. RFA works in coordination with the district veterinary offices of the Ministry of Animal Husbandry and Fisheries, and all vaccination efforts are carried out in partnership with central and local government authorities,” said Dr Felix Lankester, director of Rabies Free Tanzania. “In addition to facilitating vaccinations in more than 220 villages each year, RFA educates thousands of people about the dangers of rabies and how to prevent it, saving hundreds of lives since the program began.”

A critical part of this 2.5 million vaccination effort was the determination that Nobivac® the rabies vaccine is thermotolerant. As a result, it can be stored outside the cold chain at temperatures up to 30°C for three months without losing potency. This awareness has led to the development of locally made passive cooling devices, known as Zeepots, in which several hundred doses of rabies vaccines can be stored and kept cool without the need for electricity.

“None of this would be possible without the 2.5 million donation from Nobivac® Rabies vaccine doses by MSD Animal Health,” Lankester said. “MSD Animal Health and the Tanzanian government are key partners in the program. Working together, we’re getting closer to the World Health Organization’s 30-year goal of zero, the global strategic plan to end human deaths from dog-mediated rabies by 2030. . »

Tanzania, like other parts of Africa where rabies is endemic, includes many different communities and landscapes. Therefore, this cannot be a one-size-fits-all approach to rabies elimination. In response, RFA will continue these successful dog vaccination campaigns, while exploring new, cost-effective distribution models to increase the reach of mass dog vaccination in countries where rabies remains endemic.

Media contacts:
Dr. Felix Lankester, [email protected] +447426426831

Christie Cotterill
Washington State University
+1 206-219-2402
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