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Featured Article - 28 March 2017

First Regional Rabies Meeting in East Africa

Following successful approaches towards rabies control and elimination in South America, similar approaches have been set up to tackle the issue of rabies in East Africa. In light of this vision, the first regional rabies focal persons meeting was held in Nairobi, Kenya from 7-9 February 2017 and was hosted together by the Global Alliance for Rabies Control (GARC), the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (US-CDC) and the Kenya Zoonotic Disease Unit (Kenya ZDU). It was attended by representatives from Ethiopia, Kenya, Rwanda and Tanzania and 25 international partners. 

The workshop ran for 3 days with the aims of:

  • Analyzing current status of national canine rabies elimination programs in the sub-region
  • Establishing the role of a regional planning consortium comprised of rabies country focal persons
  • Determining regional and national targets for canine rabies control
  • Proposing strategies and a sub-regional roadmap to achieve the control and elimination of canine rabies throughout the sub-region
  • Sharing the experiences, lessons and progress with the regional PARACON network
  • Identifying regional resources and stakeholders that can be leveraged to support the rabies control efforts and identify gaps that need to be addressed

Using the Stepwise Approach to Rabies Elimination (SARE) all of the countries present self-evaluated their progress towards controlling and eliminating rabies. This created an updated snapshot of the situation in each country and provided a benchmark against which progress could be measured. It showed that all of the countries in the region are going through similar struggles and so they could support each other where needed.

GARC, CDC, WHO, OIE, FAO, AU-IBAR and WAP all provided insights into their own activities in the region and the means by which they could facilitate and support the efforts in the community. These presentations sparked lively discussions covering topics from the OIE vaccine bank to improvement of dog population management with the support of WAP.

The outcome of the meeting was overwhelmingly positive with all representatives gaining clarity in how rabies can be eliminated in their countries and the region as a whole under the umbrella of the Pan African Rabies Control Network (PARACON). Kenya will chair this group for the next two years and the next meeting will be held in South Africa later this year (2017).