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War against rabies enhanced through Dog Population Management

22/07/2016

 To urgently bring the rabies control campaign back on track through a more comprehensive and coordinated program, the FAO Emergency Centre for Transboundary Animal Diseases (ECTAD) is set to launch a Dog Population Management (DPM) programme in Bali Province.

The DPM will be implemented in close collaboration with the Directorate General of Livestock and Animal Health Services of the Ministry of Agriculture to stabilise the dog population of the island. Bringing together the public and private sectors, it will be carried out by facilitating and providing technical assistance at local government and community level in order to control rabies in Bali Province.

“Proven scientific evidence and experience from other countries has shown that a comprehensive rabies control programme must include a DPM element to maintain the effectiveness of mass dog vaccination campaigns, reducing rabies outbreaks on a sustainable basis and also ensuring the welfare of dogs and communities,” explained Dr. James McGrane, FAO ECTAD Indonesia Team Leader.

He added that in the long term, the emphasis on dog population management would also stimulate a more responsible approach to dog ownership in Bali.

A DPM pilot project will first be implemented in one of Bali’s districts, which if successful can be replicated across the island. During the Dog Population Management Workshop held on 9-10 June in Denpasar, Bali, Pejeng Village, Gianyar District, was specifically chosen as the pilot area. Pejeng Village was selected due to its rabies infected status and the strong commitment of the Gianyar local administration to continue the DPM programme after completion of the pilot phase.

The workshop also agreed to implement five DPM components in the pilot area: (1) education; (2) legislation; (3) identification and registration; (4) population control (surgical and chemical sterilisation), and (5) control of access to food sources.

The Director of Animal Health drh. I Ketut Diarmita, MP emphasized the importance of the commitment of government officers in tackling rabies. During his speech at a rabies coordination meeting in Bali on 8 June 2016, Diarmita reminded staff of the importance of close technical coordination among all stakeholders to ensure that the vaccination campaign strongly impacts rabies eradication efforts.

While vaccination is correctly considered the most important aspect of rabies control, the DPM approach will also be introduced to all key stakeholders in Bali, only making use of humane means of population control which meet international animal welfare standards.

“There is a need to have better awareness campaigns to achieve wider vaccination coverage and promote responsible dog ownership with the community. The involvement of religious and community leaders is recommended to support rabies control activities,” said McGrane.

The DPM is part of the activities under a new technical cooperation project between FAO and the Government of Indonesia to provide technical advice on the epidemiology and effective control of rabies in Bali. The cooperation also comprises training for additional rabies control A-Teams to support and implement vaccination interventions, including extra "sweeping" vaccination in districts showing sub-optimal vaccination coverage under the local government annual campaign.