Animal welfare organisations in Goa, in association with the Animal Welfare Board of India, Worldwide Veterinary Service and Dogs Trust, will launch Mission Rabies – an all-India mass canine vaccination programme on September 1.
The target of the ambitious programme is to vaccinate 50,000 dogs in 30 days in the states of Goa, Kerala, Tamil Nadu, Andhra Pradesh, Orissa, West Bengal, Rajasthan and Assam. The programme will culminate in Assam on World Rabies Day on September 28.
Worldwide Veterinary Service and Dogs Trust, who are the sponsors of the programme, are the largest dog welfare charities in the UK, with India offices in Udhagamandalam, Tamil Nadu.
According to official statistics, over a third of the reported human cases of rabies in the world occur in India.
Rabies is not a notifiable disease in many States. Dog bites are most often the cause of rabies. The majority of the people who die of rabies are from the poorer and marginal communities. Due to fear of the disease, thousands of dogs have been indiscriminately and inhumanely killed every year across India, without bringing any solution to the problem of rabies.
The World Health Organisation has said that mass canine vaccination programmes are most effective measures of controlling rabies in both dogs and humans. Mission Rabies will not only kick start a three-year campaign of sustained vaccination, targeting a total of 2 million dogs
in India, but also provide surgical training for long-term implementation of the Animal Birth Control (ABC) programme to tackle the problem of over population of street dogs.
The project will also set up the country’s first India National Rabies Network, supplying cheap effective vaccines nationwide and recording their usage, so that mapping of vaccination coverage across India will become a reality. Supported by a highly equipped and customized
Mercedes Zetros 6x6, the world’s most high-tech, all-terrain, self-sufficient mobile veterinary hospital vehicle, the Mission Rabies team comprising veterinarians, animal handlers and volunteers from India and overseas, will visit check points across the country, carrying out training and essential outreach services to improve both animal and human welfare.
The implementation of the programme in Goa will be in select municipalities and panchayats of north Goa district in the first week of September and in south Goa district in the third week of September, Ms. Norma Alvares, Member – Animal Welfare Board of India told The
Hindu on Tuesday. Veterinary Director of International Animal Rescue Astrid Almeida would be co-ordinator of Mission Rabies for Goa.
As the Mission Rabies programme also targets pet dogs, especially the local mixed-breeds which rarely stay within compound walls and are generally not vaccinated, the municipal councils and village panchayats selected for the programme have been requested to conduct a census of pet dogs in their areas, so that both strays and pet dogs can be vaccinated in the target areas, said Ms. Alvares.
Any municipal council or village panchayat which wants the Mission Rabies programme implemented in their jurisdictions are requested to contact International Animal Rescue at 2268328 / 2268272 or People for Animals at 2256479 / 2263305.
The organisers have appealed to the residents of areas which are over-populated with dogs to persuade their village panchayats/municipalities to avail of the free vaccination provided under the programme.