Côte d’Ivoire / rabies control: The CSRS in possession of accurate information for the elimination of the deadly disease

A workshop on two-years of rabies research (2015–2017) was held by the Centre Suisse de Recherches Scientifiques en Côte d'Ivoire (CSRS) in the cities of San Pédro and Bouaké (Côte d’Ivoire), on the 18th May 2018. This research was conducted as part of the Rage-GAVI project funded by the GAVI foundation and aimed at estimating the impact of canine rabies on human health in Côte d'Ivoire. According to Prof Bassirou Bonfoh, Director General of the CSRS and principal investigator of the Rage-GAVI project, the results of the studies conducted are very conclusive and will contribute to the development of the rabies elimination strategy in Côte d'Ivoire. Indeed, the studies show a clear estimate of the dog population in Côte d'Ivoire which is between 1,276,000 and 1,500,000. This is important information in that it helps to evaluate the costs of mass dog vaccination, the only effective remedy for eradicating canine rabies and, in turn, human rabies. According to Dr Kallo Vessaly, National Coordinator of the Rage-GAVI project, "there is no human rabies without canine rabies". In addition, studies carried out within the framework of the Rage-GAVI project have facilitated the diagnosis of biting dogs (dogs having bitten people or animals and suspected of carrying the rabies virus). This was possible thanks to the comparison between the IFD and Anigen tests. There is 100% compliance between the two tests. However, the Anigen test has the advantage of being fast. Moreover, it can be performed in areas without health centers, resulting in improved surveillance of biting dogs. This is not the case of the IFD test, which is done only in the antennas of the National Laboratory for Agricultural Development Support. Regarding human rabies, the new anti-rabies protocol that is used by the Thai Red Cross and elsewhere, recommended by the World Health Organization was adapted. This protocol is less painful and less expensive for the populations. It reduces the high cost of rabies vaccines, as well as the plethoric number of lost to follow-up (people who start rabies treatment but do not finish). To this end, Côte d'Ivoire through its Ministry of Health and Public Hygiene is invited to ratify this new anti-rabies protocol. It is these results that the CSRS has presented to decision-makers, representatives of national and international institutions, journalists, researchers and communities, in order to raise their awareness and support in the fight for the elimination of rabies in Côte d’Ivoire. They praised the work done by the CSRS and its partners and, moreover, made a few suggestions for further improvements. The creation of a veterinary police, the implementation of the current regulations on the possession of pets, and the strengthening of awareness, was suggested among others. The participants in this feedback workshop on activities carried out within the framework of the Rage-GAVI project promised that they will work towards the elimination of rabies through advocacy with their hierarchy.

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