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Featured Article - 13 October 2018

Working towards a rabies-free Nepal

Rakesh Chand was the awardee in the Individual category for Asia in the 2017 World Rabies Day Awards.

Rakesh Chand is a veterinary clinician, researcher and passionate advocate for the fight against rabies in Nepal. Since his early veterinary student days, Dr Chand has been organising awareness events about rabies to spread the message of prevention as far as he can. 

In 2015 Dr Chand ran an education drive for students in Kathmandu schools which proved very successful as the same students in 2016 reported zero dog bites and a much higher level of awareness about rabies and how to behave around stray dogs. Last year, while studying in Japan with the Japanese Medical Veterinary Association, he continued advocating for rabies control to Japanese media students.

He has supported World Rabies Day for many years, putting on events and volunteering for mass vaccination and sterilisation drives. His overall aim is to assess the rabies situation in Nepal and through efficient surveillance and disease control rid the country of rabies. 

Dr Chand’s focus is on creating a One Health approach when it comes to rabies prevention in Nepal, to ensure that the sectors involved are working together in an efficient and successful way. This is a difficult task given the enormity of the stray dog population in Nepal which is estimated at around 1.4 million. There is also a lack of education for children on rabies and due to free movement of animals across the Indian and Chinese borders, it can be difficult to control the spread of rabies once it is established. 

Since becoming an awardee, Dr Chand has returned from Japan and is now a consultant for the Rabies Control Programme of HART (Himalayan Animal Rescue Trust) and manages its dog data, which shows activities related to rabies such as vaccinations, rabies outbreaks, cases, dog census and neutering records. He is also one of the executive committee members of the Nepal Veterinary Association. 

The World Rabies Day Awards are brought to you by MSD Animal Health and the Global Alliance for Rabies Control. The Awards recognise community rabies champions from across the world. Find out more about the Awards and view this year’s shortlist.