As the World marks Rabies Day, the Federal Ministry of Agriculture and Food Security (FMAFS) in collaboration with the Federal Ministry of Health and Social Welfare (FMoHSW) and Federal Ministry of Environment (FMEnv) kick started the event with a joint press briefing.
Addressing the Press, the Hon. Minister, Federal Ministry of Agriculture and Food Security, Sen. Abubakar Kyari, CON, stressed the need for the elimination of dog mediated human rabies in line with the global initiative to eliminate dog mediated human rabies by year 2030.
The Ministerial Press Briefing with the theme, “All for 1-One Health for All” focused on the need for collaboration and the importance of equality as well as strengthening the overall health systems by ensuring One Health was adopted by all stakeholders.
The Hon. Minister of Agriculture and Food Security stated that this year’s World Rabies Day was significant as it marks the 17th anniversary of when countries of the world came together to celebrate, create awareness and promote health, to keep the world safe to attain the highest level of health and wellbeing.
The Minister revealed that rabies was the deadliest disease known to man with a fatality rate of almost 100% if adequate prophylaxis was not instituted immediately following an exposure.
He added that it was zoonotic in nature, affecting all warm blooded animals and man and is transmitted through bite of an infected animal.
He stressed that in Nigeria dogs, are responsible for approximately 99% of these exposures, noting that the burden of the disease was not known but it has been reported from every state in Nigeria occurring all year round with devastating outcomes in humans and livestock.
Sen. Kyari, however revealed that it was heartwarming to note that the disease is 100% vaccine preventable pointing out that by vaccinating our dogs and cats annually and keeping them on leash, rabies can be kicked out of Nigeria.
To this end, the Minister pointed out that Federal Government had organised mass dog vaccination and vaccination of at-risk humans nationwide, noting that four states (Cross Rivers, Plateau, Kano and Bornu States) had also been earmarked for community engagement activities for this year’s celebration due to increased reports from these States in the recent past.
In his remarks, the Minister of State, Federal Ministry of Health and Social Welfare, Dr. Tunji Alausa revealed that scientifically, rabies is caused by Lyssavirus that leads to progressive and fatal inflammation of the brain and spinal cord, adding that the virus is spread through the saliva of the infected animal by biting or scratching another animal or human being.
Dr. Alausa revealed that it was estimated that rabies was responsible for 59,000 agonizing human deaths every year with most people living in poor, rural community in Africa and Asia.
He emphasized that one person dies of rabies around the world every nine minutes according to Global Alliance for Rabies Control (GARC) noting that in human, the exact burden of rabies was not known because mapping was yet to be conducted.
In his address, the Minister of State, Federal Ministry of Environment, Dr. Iziaq Salako said that reports indicated that most dogs were unlicensed, not vaccinated regularly and roam freely within communities without the owners guide, adding that stray dogs are main sources of the infection.
He stressed that these dogs interact with one another with an exposure window for transmission of the virus from an infected dog especially while competing and struggling for waste food from waste bins and improperly disposed food waste in the municipalities.
Dr. Salako, therefore called for concerted efforts by relevant stakeholders and general public to ensure proper waste management in our communities, ensure that stray animals/pets owners are identified, sensitised, registered and their dogs vaccinated to further mitigate the rising incidences of rabies.
In 2022 the tripartite Ministries, Agriculture, Health and Environment launched a 5 year National Strategic Plan (NDP) for the elimination of dog mediated human rabies.
The NSP serves to guide investment in the control of rabies towards its elimination.
The support and dedication of the leadership and staff of these three Ministries and other key stakeholders, catalyzed the processes leading to the production of this document and provided the enabling environment for the productive implementation of planned activities.
Eremah Anthonia (Mrs.)
Chief Information Officer