The health think tank experts have welcomed the launch of National Action Plan for elimination of Rabies. Anti-Rabies advocates also demanded that the plan must be implemented on mission mode as no death shall occur due to a 100 per cent preventable disease. Responding to stakeholders demands, the centre has urged state governments to make rabies a notifiable disease.
“We welcome that the government has finally launched the National Action Plan for Rabies elimination. The eradication of this 100% vaccine-preventable disease that kills a large number of people in India must be taken on the mission mode and we shall try to achieve this target much before the 2030 deadline set by the WHO,” said Dr D. H. Ashwath Narayana, President, Association for Prevention & Control of Rabies In India.
Dr Narayana also highlighted that there is an urgent need for the government to undertake an immediate survey to find out the actual burden of deaths due to human rabies. The burden estimates that are presently known accounts for nearly 40% of global burden that was found in a study conducted nearly 16 years ago. He also hoped that the death burden due to rabies would have come down substantially over the years. “However we must ensure that even one death shall not occur due to a completely preventable cause,” he added.
Noting that controlling rabies at animal level is important, Mr Upamanyu Basu, Joint Secretary(LH), Department of Animal Husbandry & Dairying, Ministry of Fisheries, Animal Husbandry and Dairying, Government of India, said that the government has taken up the task of eradicating the preventable disease on a mission mode. He said that the cost of vaccines and shortage of manpower to implement vaccination programs are major challenges at hand.
“The Government of India has taken up the national action plan to eradicate rabies on a mission mode. We are focusing on vaccination, mindset change and treatment following the one health approach. We are supporting the states under the Assistance to States for Control of Animal Diseases (ASCAD)program for vaccination of animals including dogs and livestock but we are facing challenges in terms of the high cost of vaccines and lack of enough manpower to implement vaccination—though we are training people to become community volunteers at the village level, we need more volunteers in states,” said Mr Basu.
Mr Ajit Pal Singh, President – Critical Care and Emergency Medicines, Bharat Serums & Vaccines Limited, said, “There are three areas where we would like to work with the government: creating awareness in people, focusing on the importance of treatment, and compliance to treatment by patients. About 15000 doctors are being trained by us but standardization of the bite category is important as we have found that many young doctors are not equipped for comprehensive bite management.”