In a lead up to World Rabies Day the Bali government has
just signed an agreement authorising a mass vaccination campaign to inoculate
nearly 400,000 dogs as an essential first step towards eradicating rabies from
the island by 2012.
This first island-wide vaccination programme is being
funded by the World Society for the Protection of Animals (WSPA), working
closely with the Bali Animal Welfare Association (BAWA), the Bali Government
and the Indonesian Central Government.
Mike Baker, Chief Executive Officer of WSPA, said, "By
choosing to eradicate rabies through a dedicated vaccination effort, Bali is
taking the most effective route to protecting the health of its citizens, as well
as the thousands of tourists who visit the island every year. With this
campaign, Bali is set to take centre stage and demonstrate a perfect model for
rabies control to other countries where rabies continues to be a challenge."
Following BAWA's successful pilot vaccination scheme this
year in two of Bali's regencies, its agreement with the island's government
will enable teams of trained animal handlers to inoculate dogs in the remaining
seven regencies. The World Health
Organization (WHO) describes such vaccinations as "Globally, the most
cost-effective strategy for preventing rabies in people."
The Governor of Bali, speaking at the signing event, said,
"The Balinese community live in harmony with their animals and did not
want to see them killed, but we did not have a choice in our fight against
rabies - thanks to the international community, we now have a humane
alternative for protecting our people and our animals."
News of this joint initiative is being welcomed by the
international community committed to the common goal of rabies eradication.
Deborah Briggs, the CEO of the Global Alliance for Rabies Control, said, "We've
seen enough evidence from around the world to reinforce our belief that this
mass vaccination project is the single most effective measure in saving the
lives of people on Bali."
WSPA has designed the vaccination programme in close
consultation with the Bali government, as the authorities will reclaim
responsibility for managing and resourcing the scheme following the end of phase
one. Efforts in the first phase have been supported by a generous donation from
AusAID who donated 370,000 doses of dog vaccine in addition to drugs for human
post-exposure treatment from the Bali and Indonesian Central Government.
The Bali government's resuming ownership for the
programme will ensure that the critical immunity threshold - of at least 70 per
cent of Bali's dog population being vaccinated - is maintained year on year,
until the island can safely celebrate being rabies free.