COTABATO CITY – The Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao (ARMM), through its Department of Agriculture and Fisheries (DAF) and partner agencies, are taking steps to help achieve a rabies-free Philippines by 2020.
Rabies is a fatal but preventable disease of dogs and other domesticated animals, which is transmissible to humans through the pets’ saliva and the achievement of rabies-free Philippines by 2020 is the country’s goal to support the government’s drive of eliminating rabies-caused human deaths by 2030.
The DAF-ARMM has conducted a rabies awareness program on March 8 to students at Broce Central Elementary School of Peace and the community in Broce in Datu Odin Sinsuat Sinsuat town in Maguindanao province.
Dr. Norodin Kuit, ARMM’s regional anti-rabies coordinator, said the program was aimed at raising awareness on rabies and to call on Filipinos to prevent such disease through responsible pet ownership. A mass vaccination of domesticated animals, especially dogs, was conducted during the program.
Myrna Jacolon, 33, who owns a cat and three dog pets said attending such program was educational, and the immunization of her pets against rabies means protecting her family and her pets as well. “Mas mabuti na ‘yung ipabakuna ang mga alaga kaysa magpagamot kami kapag nakagat kami ng aso na may rabies,” Jacolon added.
Veterinarian Cathy Moira of the Bureau of Animal Industry said that every 10 minutes, someone dies of rabies worldwide. Most affected are children 4-15 years old. Cherry Bologa, 8, who owns a three-month-old pet dog she calls ‘Chewaweng’ submitted her dog for immunization during the event.
On the average, 1,100 Filipinos experience animal bites every day, and there were around 230 deaths in 2015 and 180 deaths in January to September 2016. Dr. Moira advised that an animal bite patient should immediately wash the wound with soap or detergent under running water, disinfect wound with alcohol, consult a doctor and seek the nearest bite center in the locality for medical attention.
As of 2016, there are around 480 Animal Bite Treatment Centers in the country. In the ARMM, an animal bite center could be visited for consultation at the Maguindanao Provincial Hospital in the town of Shariff Aguak, Maguindanao. Officials from the DAF-ARMM, meanwhile, encouraged residents to let their pets, especially dogs, to be vaccinated for free at the DAF-ARMM office at the regional compound in CotabatoC ity.
While the regional government and local government units are exerting efforts in achieving a rabies-free country, the goal remains a challenge for the government. In 2016, there were 33 zone areas considered ‘rabies-free,’ but there is still a lot of work to do.
Dr. Kuit said being a responsible pet owner would significantly help in preventing rabies. He advised that dogs and cat pets should be vaccinated against rabies at three months of age and every year thereafter. Pets should have proper nutrition, he said, dogs should be kept on leash and should not be allowed to roam freely in the streets. He added that being educated with government legislation on rabies, such as Executive Order (E.O.) No. 84, series of 1999, and the Anti-Rabies Act of 2007 (R.A. 9482) would help would help pet owners.
E.O. 84 mandates information and education on rabies prevention measures, first aid for dog bites and other relevant facts concerning rabies are critical for its eradication. Under R.A. 9482, pet owners are required to maintain control over their dog and not allow it to roam the street or any public place without a leash. (Bureau of Public Information)
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