Some 1,500 people die annually from rabies in the United Republic of Tanzania alone, according to scientific estimates.

Official numbers are lower, because many cases are not reported and not all reported cases appear in the official statistics. Most rabies victims are children and dog bites are the main path of transmission.

Rabies is an infectious disease of public health concern for the entire East African region and beyond.

Against this backdrop, the EAC Secretariat supports the World Rabies Day, which takes place on 28 September, 2017, through the ‘Support to Pandemic Preparedness in the EAC Region’ project that is implemented by the Deutsche Gesellschaft für Internationale Zusammenarbeit (GIZ) on behalf of the Government of the Federal Republic of Germany.

Rabies is the most fatal virus zoonosis (disease that can be transmitted between animals and humans) known to mankind.

Once an infected person shows signs, there is no cure to rabies. In Africa and Asia, many humans get infected by rabies through dog bites.

The World Health Organization (WHO) underscores the importance of dog vaccination as the most effective intervention against rabies, decreasing rabies in dogs and having a direct impact on public health by reducing transmission to humans.

“The planned Rabies Vaccination Initiative around the World Rabies Day is a striking example for the importance of close cooperation between human and animal medical professions and for the necessity of the One Health approach when preventing and controlling zoonotic diseases,” emphasise both, Dr Stanley Sonoiya, Head of the EAC’s Health Department, and Fahari G. Marwa, Head of the EAC’s Agriculture and Food Security Department. The EAC Secretariat strives to implement the One Health approach in the EAC Region.

The 28th of September every year is observed to commemorate World Rabies Day, a day that marks the anniversary of the demise of Louis Pasteur, the French chemist and microbiologist, who developed the first rabies vaccine.

While observing this day, we raise awareness on rabies prevention and highlight progress in the fight against rabies that puts human and animal health at risk.

Supported by the EAC Secretariat, WHO and the World Organization for Animal Health (OIE) among others, Mbwa Wa Africa Animal Rescue will vaccinate an estimated 5,000 dogs across 20 vaccination stations in Arusha City on World Rabies Day.

In addition, Mbwa Wa Africa raises awareness in about 70 schools in Arusha on how to safely approach dogs and on how to read possible signs of rabies infection and to distinguish infected from healthy dogs.

The activities are planned in collaboration with the Arusha City Council in liaison with the Tanzanian Ministry of Agriculture, Livestock and Fisheries and the Ministry of Health.

The EAC Secretariat intends to support the World Rabies Day 2018 celebrations in all Partner States to further emphasise the regional significance.

This is especially true for high risk cross-border areas among local communities surrounding National Parks and Game Reserves. The latter initiative will target transmission of rabies in wild dogs and foxes.

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