Rabies is endemic in humans and animals in the Asia Pacific Region (AP Region), with dog-mediated rabies being the predominant source of disease. However, it is often under-diagnosed, under-reported and under-funded and is therefore considered to be a neglected disease. Over 95% of human rabies cases are associated with dog bites. Rabies control and subsequent elimination necessitate a multi-sectoral collaboration, using a One Health approach to stop disease transmission at its source.
Although rabies is a 100% preventable disease, it continues to kill tens of thousands of humans and animals in the Asia Pacific region, and thus it is important to continue to advocate for more awareness in rabies prevention and control. As many countries do not invest in rabies surveillance activities, rabies is often under-detected and under-reported, and therefore neglected while it continues to kill humans and animals.
As humans have close bonds with dogs, the threat of rabies transmission remain perpetual unless active surveillance and control measures are taken in dogs – the primary animal reservoirs for rabies virus in the region. Being a zoonotic disease that thrives depending on socio-cultural, economic, and human-led activities, it is essential to use a One Health approach in tackling the disease.
World Rabies Day (WRD), observed on 28 September every year, is a day dedicated to bringing focus back to rabies as a neglected zoonosis and in committing collective actions to tackle this dreaded disease. The Regional Tripartite (FAO-WHO-WOAH) has been organising joint events during the World Rabies Day (WRD) every year to highlight collaboration and One Health (OH) actions as key strategies for rabies prevention and control.
Some priority actions identified in the past joint events include maintaining political engagement, focusing on dog vaccination, making human post-exposure prophylaxis accessible and affordable, enhancing intersectoral coordination, considering dog population management to control increasing numbers of free roaming dogs, enhancing awareness and community engagement, and mobilising resources.
For the 17th WRD, the Regional Tripartite observed the day by organising a joint webinar to re-dedicate ourselves in enhancing our efforts towards elimination of this dreaded disease. In line with the theme of the 17th WRD (focussing on One Health), the event highlights the significant role of people and sectors such as individuals (country champions), local civil societies, and the private sector, besides government, academia, NGOs, international organisations and donors. As One Health is for all, we highlighted the roles that all sections of society must play to address rabies effectively.
The joint webinar was held with the following objectives:
Tripartite Webinar on “Rabies: All for 1, One Health for All” in the Asia Pacific Region, 26 Sep 2023