Virtual Workshop on a Proposed South Asia Rabies Laboratory Network


To achieve the global goal of elimination of dog-mediated human rabies by 2030, an important component to focus on is the surveillance of animal rabies to provide accurate data in countries for timely and appropriate control measures. Although rabies poses significant public health concerns in South Asia, there is a general lack of ground-level surveillance owing primarily to insufficient or total lack of rabies diagnostic capacity across the region.

Since 2020, to support capacity building for rabies diagnosis and surveillance in animals in South Asia, the World Organisation for Animal Health (WOAH, founded as OIE) Regional Representation for Asia and the Pacific (RRAP), Tokyo, jointly with the Karnataka Veterinary, Animal and Fisheries Sciences University (KVAFSU – WOAH Reference Laboratory for Rabies), organised virtual trainings on brain sampling and diagnosis of rabies in animals in 2020, and rabies serology in 2021 for the Member States of the South Asian Association for Regional Cooperation (SAARC).

As a follow up to these trainings and as per the needs of our Members, the RRAP and KVAFSU jointly organised a workshop to introduce the concept of establishing a sub-regional rabies laboratory network (the Network) for South Asia to strengthen rabies diagnosis, surveillance, and control.

The workshop was organized with the following objectives:

  • Introduce the concept of Rabies Laboratory Networking to SAARC Members and seek feedback;
  • Introduce the draft terms of reference (ToR) of the Network and seek feedback;
  • Gather feedback on the implementation of the Network and possible support from the Members’ in ensuring sustainability of the Network.

A total of 36 participants, including nominees from the government veterinary services of seven SAARC Members (Afghanistan, Bangladesh, Bhutan, India, Nepal, Pakistan and Sri Lanka), KVAFSU, and RRAP attended the workshop.

Country participants were mostly from a laboratory background, working at national and sub-national rabies diagnostic laboratories. During the workshop, a series of presentations was made on topics including the disease situation in South Asia, recent updates on activities, rabies diagnostic capacities and updates, and the concepts behind rabies laboratory networking at the global and regional level.

Thereafter, a draft terms of reference (ToR) for the proposed Network was introduced, and feedback sought from the participants. A series of Mentimeter® sessions were held to actively engage the participants and seek feedback on the concept and ToRs of the Network. The RRAP will follow-up with the Delegates of SAARC Member States in setting up the Network, and with KVAFSU will provide the necessary support for operationalizing Network activities.

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