Heart of the Matter: A radio Commentary on Premier 93.5fm, Dugbe, Ibadan

posted on Oct 6, 2022 by

RABIES: ONE HEALTH, ZERO DEATH
A Radio Commentary (Heart of the matter) on Premier 93.5FM,
Oba Adebimpe Road, Dugbe, Ibadan
By
Dr. Ibikunle Faramade,
President, Society for Animal Rights Protection, Nigeria
Rabies is a zoonotic disease caused by rabies virus, transmitted from a rabid animal, usually dog or cats to humans. The disease could affect all warm blooded animals, leading to inflammation of the brain and spinal cord, paralysis and ultimately, death. The disease is irreversible once the symptoms start to manifest and the case fatality is 100%. Although, the disease is 100% preventable through vaccination, human deaths due to it is estimated annually to be more than 55,000 globally. This may be so because of lack of concerted efforts by all the critical stakeholders to synergise resources and expertise including sharing of scientific knowledge to combat the disease. Although the disease is prevalent globally, its occurrence is more pronounced in Africa and Asia, but the incidence is most prevalent in rural and peri- urban areas. Rabies is highly endemic in Nigeria resulting in the death of about 10,000 victims annually. The first reported incidence of human rabies case in Nigeria occurred in 1912 while rabies in dogs was first diagnosed in 1925. The transmission of rabies occur in two phases, namely, the sylvatic (forest) and the urban cycles. The reservoir of rabies is the bat from where the domestic dogs acquire the disease as vectors through a complex interplay of epizootiological and ecological factors. The mode of transmission from animals to animals and from animals to humans is usually through the bite of infected dogs and through the licking of wounds and contamination of mucous membranes. The Clinical signs of rabies depend on the stage of the disease. There are four stages, namely, prodromal, furious, dumb, and atypical. Clinical signs may include sudden negative behavioural changes, undue aggression, changes in voice, hydrophobia (fear of water), extreme excitement, excessive salivation, fever, pica and generalized restlessness.
Over the years, the disease has continued to plaque the Nigerian society despite efforts of the government to curtail its spread. This may be due to adherence to traditional method of fighting such zoonotic disease through singular efforts of different stakeholders working separately in dissonance, devoid of collaboration and synergy to achieve desired results. This is why the theme of this year’s World Rabies Day is apt, that is, Rabies: One Health, Zero Deaths. One Health approach is a broad based strategy for managing infectious and non-infectious diseases through multidisciplinary communication and collaboration for optimal environmental, human, domestic animal and wild life health outcomes at local, national and global levels. Increasing human and wildlife populations and a greater convergence of animals and humans within a variety of ecosystem have shown that continued use of rigid approaches towards health management could not proffer desired results and solutions to human health management. Therefore, the concept of One Health offers a unique multidisciplinary coordinated opportunity to improve the capacity to effectively manage existing diseases and contain the development and spread of emerging infectious diseases.
The achievement of a world without rabies by 2030, which is one of the main targets of goal 3 of the sustainable development goals (i.e. improvement of health and wellbeing) may not be achieved without the adoption and implementation of novel initiative such as One Health approach. Having realised the significance of One Health approach in combating zoonotic diseases, the Federal Government of Nigeria has put together One Health Strategic Plan (2019-2023). In addition, the National Strategic Plan for elimination of dog mediated human rabies was launched recently. These documents were drafted by the tripodal ministries involved in the implementation of One Health in Nigeria. These include the Federal Ministry of Health, Federal Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Development and the Federal Ministry of the Environment with the support of development partners. These documents are expected to serve as guidelines for the coordination of One Health and dog mediated rabies control activities in Nigeria.
The full implementation of these guidelines would ultimately lead to zero record of deaths attributable to rabies in Nigeria by the year 2030.

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