Thailand to Eliminate Rabies by 2020
Death from rabies has decreased significantly in Thailand from almost 200 deaths 10 years ago to only eight in 2015. With the death rate from rabies-related cases decreasing, Thailand is well on its way to reaching its proposed goal of eliminating the disease by the year 2020. Her Royal Highness Princess Chulabhorn Mahidol visited the World Health Organization’s (WHO) headquarters in Geneva this past August advocating for an end to rabies. She has contributed to promoting the mass vaccination and management of dogs and to enhanced awareness of the disease.
Rabies is a fatal but curable disease that targets rural and poor communities, predominantly, in Asia and in Africa. It can be transferrable through bites and scratches from infected animals, most commonly, dogs. Her Royal Highness’ aid in helping people become aware of the disease and how to prevent it is helping Thailand reach its goal to eliminate rabies by 2020, which is in line with the wider international initiative to end human rabies deaths by 2030.
Eliminating a disease like rabies requires a response from the many pet owners in Thailand. Vaccinations for the disease stop disease transmission at its source, the animal. Thailand actually leads the world in developing and implementing disease control methods such as cost-saving intradermal vaccines which are also dose-saving, meaning low-income pet owners can give fewer doses with the same level of effectiveness. This is especially important when it comes to making these vaccines more widespread in poorer and more rural populations.
Education programs have been created around the world and are being used in Thailand to help communities understand how to avoid being bitten, how to learn animal behavior and what to do when in contact with a rabid animal. Programs teaching the Thai people how to take care of wounds are also being implemented and help in the fight to eliminate rabies.
Increasing mobile units to more rural areas outside of Bangkok that provide care for the people and to bring the necessary care-service to dogs is another step in ending this disease. Post-exposure prophylaxis or, PEP, is brought to these remote areas and helps ensure that at least 70 percent of dogs in the area receive the vaccination. HRH Princess Chulabhorn not only cares to help improve the health of the people but is also concerned with promoting a more humane treatment of dogs and is helping other countries adopt more sustainable and compassionate ways of treating them. She goes on to say that if any other country needs help with the elimination of rabies she is willing to lend a helping hand.
WHO is working closely with Her Royal Highness Princess Chulabhorn to help achieve the goal of eliminating rabies globally by 2030. As for Thailand, with an action plan already in place, it is up to the communities in the country to eliminate rabies by 2020.
– Lorial Roballo