The Sorsogon Provincial Veterinary Office (PVO) here on Wednesday announced the approval by a foreign donor of a US$ 300,000 (P12 million) fund grant for the province’s anti-rabies program.
Enrique Espiritu, the provincial veterinary officer said the fund that would come from the UBS Optimus Foundation would be for a three-year agenda under the Global Alliance for Rabies Control (GARC) that is spearheading the Communities Against Rabies Exposure (CARE) program.
The UBS Optimus Foundation is a charitable institution established by UBS which supports projects all around the world in two core areas– education and child protection and global health research to secure access to education and healthcare for a great number of children.
Espiritu said the fund grant will be prorated on a US$ 100,000 a year release starting early next year to facilitate the coordination of surveillance, molecular epidemiology, dog population model control, participation in health economics group and consultation for rabies prevention and control models.
This undertaking, he said is an offshoot of the Bohol success story which demonstrated that rabies can be eliminated and children can be saved from dog bites by empowering communities to take responsibility, develop and share adequate tools for sustainability provided by global assistance and expertise.
“Sorsogon will replicate this Bohol model so that the province becomes another sustainable rabies free area,” according to Espiritu.
He said that based on studies conducted, rabies is a disease of poverty that mainly affects children living in marginalized communities. Over 99 percent of human rabies deaths today occur in Africa and Asia as a result of being bitten by an infected dog and up to 60 percent of all dog bites and rabies deaths occur in children under 15 years of age.
Rabies, according to world statistics is a life-threatening risk for over one billion people living in poverty across Asia and Africa.
Espiritu said that with this GARC program, the local government will strengthen awareness to prevent exposure to this disease by eliminating or controlling the source of infection in dog populations.
“Massive dog vaccination is cost effective to control rabies and sustainable than interventions aimed at humans only,” he explained.