Rabies free Philippines, still possible

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“Rabies free Philippines is still possible in 2020,” said Dr. Victor Atienza, Assistant Director of the Bureau of Animal Industry, Department of Agriculture (DA-BAI) and Chair of the National Rabies Committee, during the Quezon City Rabies Prevention and Control Summit on 22 March 2012, held at Bulwagang Amoranto, Quezon City Hall.

“Though the Philippines is still ranked 6th among countries with the highest rabies incidence in the world, there is still a possibility for the country to meet the target of becoming rabies-free in 2020,” said Dr. Atienza.

“In fact, we already have communities that have been declared as rabies-free in the country. Among these communities are Camiguin of Region X, Siquijor of Region VII, Batanes of Region II, and five areas in Cebu.”

Dr. Atienza also announced that animal rabies cases declined by more than 62 percent – from 2,550 cases in 2001 to 451 cases in 2011.

Out of 2,207 animal samples examined in 2011, only 451 cases were confirmed for rabies. “This indicates a significant decline in rabies incidence,” explained Dr. Atienza.

The top provinces for animal rabies cases in 2011 are Region X (69 cases), Region IVA (58 cases), Region VII (48 cases), Region I (45 cases) and Region V (33 cases). 98% of animal rabies cases are due to dogs while two percent are due to cats and other domesticated animals such as carabao, cattle, pigs and goats. There are no rabies cases involving wild animals and bats in the country.

Dr. Atienza, appealed for support from the local government of the identified top provinces for rabies cases. “We cannot do it alone, but through collaboration and your support, rabies-free Philippines is possible in the near future.” He also sought additional funding for animal vaccination. “At the moment, we are only distributing vaccines to the selected poor and deprived communities. If only the funding indicated in the Anti Rabies Act of 2007 will be followed, this would be a big support to fund IEC campaign for rabies awareness, dog vaccination and other activities as indicated in the law. By then, rabies cases will surely be reduced and eliminated and the Philippines could be declared Rabies free even before the target date of 2020.” (Edmon Agron/PCHRD-DOST)

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