FAO Representation
Viet Nam

Response to the Global Rabies Prevention Initiative

Response to the Global Rabies Prevention Initiative

29 Sep 2013 -- Over the past decade the number of rabies deaths has been on the rise in Viet Nam from 34 deaths in 2003 to a peak of 131 deaths in 2007 . This year’s World Rabies Day brings together communities, authorities and health experts to raise awareness about the tools and technology available to prevent and eliminate rabies in both animals and humans. The day is also about helping people improve their understanding about the impact of rabies, enhance their collaboration and harness their commitment to defeat the disease.

Although rabies is 100% preventable, approximately one person dies every ten minutes from the disease bringing the total to an estimated 55,000 rabies deaths worldwide each year.

In Viet Nam more than 90% of the human rabies cases are caused by unvaccinated dogs.  All human rabies cases reported thus far in 2013 have been fatal primarily due to failure to seek post exposure prophylaxis.  Around 100 people die annually from the disease, in Viet Nam.  

Rabies is considered as a neglected disease that largely affects vulnerable populations including the rural poor who do not have adequate access to information and health services. In Viet Nam the majority of rabies cases occur in the northern, hard-to-reach mountainous provinces. The main reasons for the escalated number of human rabies cases over the past few years include low public awareness about rabies and its preventive measures, poor management of dogs, large numbers of stray and unvaccinated dogs, many people who were bitten by suspected rabid dogs did not get post exposure prophylaxis, and the lack of resources for rabies prevention and control.

“We have all the means necessary to eliminate rabies but we need a sustained and coordinated effort to ensure that vulnerable populations know how to protect themselves from the disease. With political commitment at all levels, education, dog vaccination, and increased awareness of wound management and  post exposure rabies vaccines, we can save lives”, Dr Bae Jongha, Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO) Representative and Dr Takeshi Kasai, World Health Organization (WHO) Representative in Viet Nam, stated jointly.

In a coordinated effort to raise awareness about both human and animal rabies, the Ministry of Health (MOH) and Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Development (MARD) are teaming up with the FAO and WHO to host the World Rabies Day event in Son La city, in Son La province, which has one of the highest rabies death rates in the country.  The event will bring together more than 800 students, teachers, community members, human and animal health professionals as part of Viet Nam’s overarching target of eliminating rabies by 2020.

“Recently, the MARD and MOH jointly signed the Circular 16 dated May 27, 2013 providing Guidelines for coordinated prevention and control of zoonotic diseases. This Circular mandates that the animal and human health sectors coordinate and collaborate closely to address key zoonotic diseases including rabies.  To achieve the goal of rabies elimination by 2020, as described in the National rabies prevention and control programme, it requires mutil-sectoral effort towards One Health approach, a strong commitment of local authorities in supporting the poor, ethnic minority groups and children under 6 years of age in accessing rabies vaccination as well as raising people's awareness in applying preventive measures against rabies both in animals and humans,” Dr Nguyen Thu Thuy, Deputy Director of Animal Health Department and Dr Tran Dac Phu, Deputy Director of General Department of Preventive Medicine jointly said.

Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO)
Ms Nguyen Thuy Hang
Advocacy and Community Engagement Advisor
Tel: (++84.4) 3942.4208 (Ext 42), Email: Hang.nguyenthuy@fao.org   

World Health Organization (WHO)
Ms Tran Thi Loan
Communication Assistant
Email: media.vtn@wpro.who.int
Tel: 0915 413 814