Ghana’s Health and Veterinary Services have painted a gloomy picture on the fight against rabies infections.
This is due to the extremely low immunization of dogs to reduce rabies infections from dog bites.
Although official statistics show that 10 percent of dogs are vaccinated in Ghana, the accurate figure may be hovering around 2 percent due to unavailability of information on the population of dogs.
Annually about one hundred people die each year in Ghana from rabies infections, raising fears that the country cannot meet the global target of eliminating rabies infections by 2030.
The Food and Agriculture Organization (FA0) is spearheading a dog vaccination campaign dubbed ‘Vaccinate to Eliminate’, following the re-emergence of new cases.
In July two people died in Kasoa in Eastern Ghana with over seventy others battling for their lives after they were bitten by dogs.
Health Service Alert
Head of Disease Surveillance at the GHS Dr Franklin Asiedu Bekoe said the emergence of new rabies cases are worrying.
“Rabies poses a serious economic burden for the country. We spend millions of cedis on anti-rabies vaccines to treat patients.
If you vaccinate 70 percent of dog population it prevents 99 percent of human infections.
However in Ghana we have just 10 percent of dog population being vaccinated. Ghana is at the verge of losing the battle for zero tolerance against rabies.”
Road-map for Elimination of Rabies
Although there is a comprehensive roadmap for eliminating rabies to meet the global target, it’s implementation is being hampered by lack of funds and other constraints.
The Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) has expressed it’s commitment towards the enforcement of the road map to reduce rabies infections.
Regional Manager of the FAO Emergency Center for Transboundary Animal Disease Baba Soumare said the Integrated Rabies Prevention and Control Action Plan must not be allowed to gather dust.