One child dies of rabies every hour in India, say statistical figures. More than the figure, what is sickening is that the ‘hourly deaths’ are easily preventable, as the disease can be fully eradicated.
Taking serious note of this fact, Animal Welfare Board of India (AWBI) has put its foot forward by chalking out a mega sterilisation drive across the length of the country, literally. Taken up in coordination with the UK-based Dogs Trust and Worldwide Veterinary Service (WVS), the campaign will start from Goa on the western coast on August 28 and culminate at Guwahati in the North-East on September 28, covering more than 2,500 km in 30 days, focusing on ten identified ‘hotspots’. The organisers plan to vaccinate a minimum of 50,000 community dogs against rabies by September 28, which is observed as ‘World Rabies Day’.
A well-equipped imported vehicle will be pressed into service for the mega campaign. Fondly referred to as ‘Monster Truck’, the specially-designed vehicle has a telescopic chassis, which gets extended by a few meters to meet the situation. It has state-of-the-art medical equipment and seven surgical tables. “In the long run, the vehicle will be used to conduct surgical training courses ‘on the move’ and impart in veterinarians the skills required to run birth control and vaccinating programmes,” AWBI Vice-Chairman S. Chinny Krishna told The Hindu on Thursday.
Dr. Krishna visited Animal Careland, a Tirupati-based voluntary organisation, at Thukivakam on the city outskirts, when he spoke on the need for a nationwide vaccination drive akin to the Pulse Polio campaign. “A mega drive once in six months will surely stamp out rabies,” he said. On the conflicting figures of rabies cases in the country, he blamed it on the poor record-keeping in public health centres. Animal Careland founder N.V.Sreekanth Babu and civic veterinary officer N.V. Ramana Kumar explained to him the sterilisation drive planned in Tirupati.