By Roy Mabasa
With the Philippines being in the top 10 countries in the world with rabies problem, the Japan International Cooperation Agency (JICA) and the Department of Health (DOH) are jointly launching a prevention and treatment network model that could help eliminate rabies in the Philippines by 2020.
The project called “Establishment of One Health Prevention and Treatment Model for Elimination of Rabies” coincided as both the Philippines and Japan joined in marking the World Rabies Day last September 28.
In a statement, JICA said the project will be piloted in Bulacan, which has the highest case of rabies in the country. According to the Provincial Veterinary Office of Bulacan, the province had the ninth highest record of animal bites cases among all provinces in 2018.
Accordingly, JICA and DOH will come up with easy-to-use and cheaper diagnostic kits for rabies (like pregnancy test kits) and a data-sharing system to easily identify statistics on rabies cases and needed interventions.
Japanese expert Dr. Nobuo Saito of Oita University said Japan has been rabies-free since the 1950s and was made possible when they strictly implemented the anti-rabies law and held mass vaccinations of pets.
“Through this project, we are sharing our approach in eliminating rabies in Japan so the Philippines will effectively eradicate this disease,” Saito said.
He stressed the strong need to emphasize responsible pet ownership and mass vaccination to control rabies, noting that Filipinos are known for being dog-lovers.
The World Health Organization (WHO) earlier noted in a report that Rabies continues to be a public health problem in the Philippines.
It is responsible for the deaths of 200 to 300 Filipinos per year. In 2010, 257 died of rabies, and in 2011, 202 deaths were reported.
The World Health Organization (WHO) estimates that 59,000 people die from rabies worldwide each year.
Rabies is a vaccine-preventable disease and is mainly transmitted through bites and exposure from the saliva of infected animals. In most countries, including the Philippines, more than 97% of rabies cases are from dogs.
While it is preventable Dr. Tomothy John Dizon of the RITM said it is also important to raise awareness on the different stages of rabies and its symptoms,” added Dr. Timothy John Dizon of RITM.
He explained that some of the symptoms of rabies after incubation include fatigue, headache, anorexia, fever, and itchiness of the wound and if untreated may lead to coma or death.
A little known fact is that the incubation period of rabies, or the time from infection to the manifestation of symptoms, can be as short as two (2) weeks and as long as six (6) years.