The paradigm shift in one health and one Health in Action: Regional Rabies Elimination 

Session virtual link: Digital Session., Meeting ID: 990 2651 7691

Session objectives

  1. To raise awareness of the feasibility of eliminating all human deaths from rabies and the ‘Zero by 30’ strategy led by WHO, OIE and FAO.
  2. To discuss the value of a coordinated One Health approach for combating this Neglected Tropical Disease, and potential benefits extending well beyond rabies control.
  3. To discuss the need for regional roadmaps for rabies elimination in Africa and elsewhere.

Session abstract

Rabies still kills an estimated 60,000 people a year. Those most vulnerable to rabies tend to be the poorest communities, mainly in Africa and Asia, and almost half of all deaths are children.

Rabies is almost always transmitted to humans by domestic dogs. It is 100% vaccine-preventable, but unless treated immediately, it is almost always fatal. The tools exist to eliminate rabies – primarily consisting of mass dog vaccination, rapid access to post exposure vaccine for humans and successful public education and community engagement. Despite the proven pathway to rabies elimination, there is a lack of political engagement and resources for achieving it in most endemic countries.

Rabies elimination is an important goal in itself, but could have much wider benefits. Around 75 per cent of new human diseases are zoonotic in origin. Recent examples include HIV/AIDS, Ebola, avian flu and MERS, as well as COVID-19. The COVID-19 pandemic has highlighted the catastrophic global consequences a novel pathogen can have on every aspect of society and reinforced the links between human and animal health. Although rabies does not have high pandemic potential, action on rabies (and other endemic diseases) using a One Health approach could provide a powerful tool for strengthening capacity for response to many other emerging and zoonotic diseases.

There is considerable global interest in strengthening global pandemic preparedness. However early warning systems are of limited use unless they are linked with capability for an effective response. This capability can rarely be constructed in a crisis situation – effective surveillance, diagnostic capacity, procurement, intersectoral communication and community engagement must be developed in ‘peace time’. Programmes to tackle emerging disease threats are therefore best supported by strengthening core capacities to respond to ongoing, endemic infectious disease problems.

Event Timeslots (1)

PD 14