Ministers for Agriculture and Health and Social Welfare yesterday presided over
the launching of the anti-rabies vaccination campaign at the NEMA conference
hall, in Abuko.
The launching was organised by the department of livestock services, in collaboration with FAO, ministry of agriculture, ministry of health among other development partners.
In his launching statement, Hon. Alpha Omar Jallow, the Minister of Agriculture, said that the activities would go a long way in complementing their efforts towards a rabies-free Gambia.
According to him, the occasion provided an opportunity for them to sensitise people residing in The Gambia about the importance of rabies as a zoonotic disease and it being transmissible from animals to human.
He said few Gambians die from the disease and mostly from the bite of a rabies virus infected dog or cat.
According to experts, the disease usually kills 1 person every 10 minutes globally in which 95% was caused by bites from rabid dogs.
He said this terrible disease is 100% preventable through the vaccination of 70% or more of the dog population in any country or community.
Minister Jallow further said that the increasing population of stray and free ranging dogs in the urban and growth centres was a public health concern for the safety of Gambians and visitors to the country.
The campaign would prevent human deaths in the country due to rabid-dog bites, he stressed, adding that it would also foster issues of animal health and welfare in the country and provide a safer Gambia for all.
He disclosed that livestock services, as technical arm of the ministry, would closely work with partners with the aim of controlling and eventually eliminating rabies within the borders of The Gambia.
Also speaking at the occasion, the Minister of Health and Social Welfare, Saffie Lowe Ceesay, said in The Gambia the threat posed by the zoonotix rabies disease remains a significant challenge and a huge public health concern.
She said the campaign was important towards enhancing health security by enabling countries to prevent, detect early and respond to existing and emerging public health threats.
She said a national framework for collaboration between and among health security stakeholders, animal health and environment network within the country was necessary.
Serra Njie from FAO said rural communities suffered the most from this preventable disease, adding that rabies put not only their own health and wellbeing at risk, but also that of their animals.
She said the world’s poorest are the most affected as they could not afford treatment or transport for care.
She said FAO has been supporting vaccination campaigns and the development of community-based programmes to prevent and eliminate rabies.