The announcement came today (Sept 28), recognised around the globe as World Rabies Day,
The goal to eliminate the deadly disease in the Vietnamese capital is part of a worldwide effort known as ‘Zero By 30: Global Strategic Plan to End Human Deaths from Dog-mediated Rabies by 2030’.
Led by GARC, the World Health Organization, the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations and the World Organisation for Animal Health, the plan aims to eradicate human deaths from dog-mediated rabies globally by the end of the decade.
The disease currently claims an estimated 59,000 human lives a year, with poor communities in Asia and Africa most affected.
The goal also closely aligns with Soi Dog’s ongoing fight to end the dog and cat meat trade in Vietnam. The unregulated transport of dogs and cats – who are snatched from the streets or stolen from their owners – into Hanoi for slaughter is believed to not only be contributing to continued rabies transmission in the city but actively exacerbating it.
Soi Dog’s ‘Last Country on Earth’ campaign to end the dog and cat meat trade throughout Asia seeks to grasp the nettle of Vietnam’s desire to eradicate rabies by establishing the suspected link between the horrendous trade and the entirely preventable yet fatal disease.
The foundation’s joint work with the DAH and GARC will include strategic rabies vaccination campaigns and outbreak response; routine testing of samples from dog and cat slaughterhouses to establish the rabies risk; and education of at-risk communities, including targeted materials for children. The implementation of an active rabies surveillance system will help guide these efforts to ensure the data collected and the actions taken are as effective and accurate as possible.
As part of Soi Dog’s campaign to end the dog and cat meat trade in Thailand between 2011 and 2014, co-founder John Dalley MBE told government officials from across Southeast Asia, “Stopping the dog and cat meat trade will not eliminate rabies, but I guarantee you that if we do not stop this trade, we will never eliminate rabies” – an argument that still stands today.
Soi Dog was successful in ending the trade in Thailand, and their large-scale sterilisation and vaccination programme has been a major contributing factor to the decline in rabies cases in the country. Almost 800,000 dogs and cats have been spayed/neutered and vaccinated through the programme (known as CNVR – Catch, Neuter, Vaccinate, Return) since 2003, efforts which have been recognised by the Thai Royal Family and the Thai government.
The foundation looks forward to building on this work in Vietnam for the benefit of animals and humans alike.