CSRS briefs journalists on rabies to intensify disease control efforts

In order to strengthen the fight against rabies, the Centre Suisse de Recherches Scientifiques en Côte d'Ivoire (CSRS) and its partners have joined in the support of the press. It is in this sense that a training session on rabies was held for a dozen journalists on the 17th May 2018. This training provided journalists with accurate information and also bridged the gap between them and the researchers in order to better coordinate control actions and achieve the goal of eliminating rabies by 2030.   The training consisted in four parts: an icebreaker, and three presentations on i) human rabies, ii) animal rabies and iii) exchanges. Led by Prof Bassirou Bonfoh, Director General of the CSRS, the icebreaker consisted of an individual presentation of each participant in the training and in overcoming prejudices existing between the world of scientific research and that of the press.   Dr. Tiétchi Mathilde, Head of the Anti-Rabies Center of the National Institute of Public Hygiene (INHP) and Human Rabies Project Leader in the Rage-GAVI Project, defined human rabies as "an infectious disease of animal origin transmitted to humans by warm-blooded mammals, especially the dog, which is the main reservoir of the virus”, in his presentation. Dr. Tetchi also shared some alarming figures, calling for efforts to end rabies transmission for good: "59,000 cases of annual deaths occur worldwide, including 18 in Côte d'Ivoire; one death occurs every 9 minutes; children are the most vulnerable at more than 40%". In order to "turn the tide," Dr. Tetchi emphasized the prevention of dog vaccination, wound washing after a bite and medical follow-up.   With regard to human rabies, Dr Kallo Vassaly, Deputy Director of the Veterinary Services Department and National Coordinator of the Rage-GAVI project, dwelt on the need to report any case of suspicion or dog bite to the veterinary services to put the animal under observation. This will allow to know if the dog is suffering from rage or not and to prevent it from contaminating other people. With regard to rabies control, Dr Kallo called for environmental sanitation through better waste management and dog vaccination. According to him, the vaccination of dogs has a double benefit: "economic gain and the preservation of human lives because there is no human rage without canine rabies".   Following the presentations on human and canine rabies, Prof Bonfoh conducted an exercise with the journalists. It consisted in gathering their concerns about the disease as well as on the best way of sensitizing both communities and decision-makers. "Rabies is a disease that, once contracted and without vaccination, results in death in 100% of the cases. It is a disease that can be avoided because we know what to do. But today, our biggest unresolved questions are adressed at two levels: What makes people who have animals do not vaccinate them? And why do policy makers not commit to eliminating this disease? The journalists proposed a series of media actions that could help vaccinate dogs; the only effective way to defeat rabies. About the Rage-GAVI project The Rage-GAVI project whose objective is to estimate the impact of canine rabies on human health in Côte d'Ivoire lasted two years (2015–2017) and had for pilot sites in the cities of Bouaké and San Pedro. The feedback workshop was held on the 18th May, 2018 at CSRS. The Rage-GAVI Project was conducted by the CSRS with its national partners including the prefectural authorities, the National Institute of Public Hygiene, the Directorate of Veterinary Services, the National Laboratory for Support to Agricultural Development, the Project of Improvement of Animal Health and Veterinary Public Hygiene and the universities of Ivory Coast. The Swiss Tropical an Public Health Institute has been the main international partner of the Rage-GAVI project funded entirely by the GAVI foundation with the support of the International Organization of Animal Husbandry and Glaxo Smith Kline.

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