On Friday, September 28, 2018, Liberia joined the rest of the world in observance of World Rabies Day. The event was held under the theme “Rabies: Share the message, Safe a life”. The theme highlighted the importance of education and the need to create awareness in preventing rabies across the globe.
The day also raised the profile of national and local rabies control programs and served as a springboard for year-round capacity building and awareness in the country. The event provided an opportunity for dogs’ owner and the community to better understand rabies prevention and control in Liberia. The global target is to eliminate canine rabies by 2030.
The ceremony brought together Government’s line ministries and agencies including the Ministry of Health, Ministry of Agriculture, Ministry of Education, National Public Health Institute of Liberia (NPHIL), National Disaster Management Agency (NDMA), Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), and the Forestry Development Authority (FDA). Also present were the World Health Organization (WHO), the United Nations Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO), United States Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), Humane Society (HSI), PREDICT, as well as students and faculty of the D. Twe Memorial High School.
The 2018 World Rabies Day was held under the One Health Coordination Platform (OHCP). This Platform, is an approach based on the collaborative efforts of professionals from multiple disciplines, working locally, nationally and globally, to attain optimal human and animal health and protection of the ecosystem, by strengthening public health preparedness and response, including zoonosis (a disease that can be transferred from animals to humans under natural conditions).
Speaking at the official ceremony in the Auditorium of the D. Twe Memorial High School in New Kru Town, the Deputy Minister of Health for Health Services and Chief Medical Officer, Dr. Francis Kateh, stressed the need for more education in the fight against rabies. Dr. Kateh called on communities and the media to assist in the spread of rabies prevention and awareness messages.
In remarks, the FAO Country Representative to Liberia, Madam Mariatou Njie disclosed that the FAO contributed 2,500 doses of the rabies vaccines and the consumables for the campaign. “FAO is also providing support beyond rabies control in Liberia; under the Emergency Center for Transboundary Animal Disease program,” she asserted. She further pointed out that the FAO is committed to play a major role in the detection, response and prevention of zoonotic diseases threat in Liberia. Several speakers, representing line ministries and agencies, reaffirmed their commitment to the fight against rabies in the country
The early symptoms of rabies in people are fever, headache, and general weakness or discomfort. As the disease progresses, more specific symptoms appear and they include insomnia (lack of sleep), anxiety, confusion, slight paralysis, excitation etc. Death usually occurs within days of onset of the disease.
There were five vaccination sites earmarked for the vaccination of dogs during the observance of the day. The sites were the D. Twe High School in New Kru Town, Tubman High School in Sinkor, National Transit Authority Compound in Gardnerville, Duport Road Clinic in Paynesville and the Unification Town Hall in Unification Town, Margibi County