World Rabies Day WhatsApp group mobilizes veterinarians

World Rabies Day WhatsApp group mobilizes veterinarians

14/11/2018

A total of 10 000 dogs were vaccinated as part of a mass campaign on World Rabies Day (28 September) in Senegal. This five-fold increase on last year was thanks to the involvement of national veterinarians and the technical support of FAO’s Emergency Centre for Transboundary Animal Diseases (ECTAD) in Senegal, in the coordination of activities through the World Rabies Day WhatsApp group.

The World Rabies Day WhatsApp group brought together all private and public service veterinarians and coordinated actions with the Government during the nationwide rabies vaccination campaign.

Immunization expectations far exceeded the targets set. In 2017, about 900 dogs were vaccinated throughout the year and on World Rabies Day alone, more than 10 000 dogs were vaccinated. This achievement was made possible thanks to the sensitization of dog owners, under the coordination of the WhatsApp group of veterinarians in Senegal.

All 70 veterinary members of the group (43% of whom are veterinarians of public services, decentralized services and other government structures) shared photos, results of the vaccination campaign and other relevant information. The collected data was geo referenced through the Kobo Toolbox – a free tool that collects field data with mobile devices or computers, and makes information accessible in real time to veterinarians anywhere in the field in Senegal. This platform facilitated the interaction of all private and public veterinarians.

Thanks to the WhatsApp group, its veterinary members agreed to extend the vaccination campaign until 1 October 2018. This free four-day vaccination campaign is a major contribution to the goal of eradicating rabies by 2030.

FAO ECTAD in Senegal participated in this successful initiative not only as an active member of the WhatsApp group, but also by technically supporting coordination among its members. FAO ECTAD in Senegal will also support the validation and publication of the results of the successful vaccination campaign.