Department of Health allocates P500M for rabies prevention

September 28, 2019

THE National Rabies Prevention and Control Program will be getting at least P500 million for 2020  to prevent rabies infection.

Anakalusugan Rep. Michael Defensor said the  program’s new allocation is  in the Department of Health (DoH) budget in the proposed General Appropriations Act for 2020.

“The extra funding for the program is meant to enable the country to finally eradicate rabies,” Defensor said.

The DoH aims to eliminate human deaths from rabies by next year, and to declare the Philippines Rabies-Free by 2022.

As of 2018, the number of “rabies-free areas” in the country had reached 62, up from 49 in 2017, the DoH stated in a report submitted to Congress.

Though not a leading cause of mortality in the country, rabies still kills some 300 Filipinos every year, according to the DoH.

The viral disease is transmitted from animals (mainly dogs) to people. It is spread to humans through close contact with the infected dog’s saliva via bites or scratches.

Rabies is 100 percent fatal and yet 100 percent preventable with vaccination in animals and people, according to the World Health Organization (WHO).

In May, a 24-year-old Norwegian woman died after catching rabies from the bite of a stray puppy that she rescued while vacationing in the Philippines three months earlier. The woman did not seek immediate post-exposure vaccination. She became sick and eventually died after returning to Norway.

Defensor reminded local governments and pet owners of their obligations under the Anti-Rabies Act of 2007.

“Local governments are duty-bound under the law to conduct periodic mass vaccinations of dogs, establish databases for registered and inoculated dogs, control homeless and unvaccinated dogs and conduct public information drives to prevent and control rabies,” Defensor said.

“Pet owners are required to have their dogs regularly vaccinated against rabies, submit their dogs for mandatory registration, maintain control over their dogs at all times, report dog biting incidents inside 24 hours and assist dog bite victims,” he added.

The WHO commemorates Sept. 28 of every year as World Rabies Day “to raise awareness about rabies prevention and to highlight progress in defeating this horrifying disease.”