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Laguna holds Rabies Summit 2018

Provincial Information Office

October 24, 2018


   The Provincial Health Office (PHO) of Laguna, in partnership with the Department of Health (DOH) Region 4A, recently conducted the Infectious Disease Program Implementation Review: Laguna Rabies Summit 2018 held at the Governor’s Office Conference Room at the Old Capitol Building in Sta. Cruz, Laguna.

   The conference aims to increase public awareness on the dangers of contracting the rabies virus, how to prevent human exposure to the fatal disease, and strengthen collaboration among stakeholders in sharing strategies to work towards attaining a rabies-free Philippines, and how to improve existing rabies control policies.

   Rabies is a deadly virus spread to people from the saliva of infected animals. The rabies virus is usually transmitted through a bite. In the Philippines, stray dogs are the most likely to spread rabies to people. Once a person begins showing signs and symptoms of rabies, the disease is nearly always fatal. For this reason, anyone who may have a risk of contracting rabies should receive rabies vaccines for protection.

    DOH Laguna Officer Dr. Gigi Janairo reported an alarming increase in the number of fatal cases due to rabies, and an increasing demand for anti-rabies vaccination for both humans and animals in Laguna. Dr. Janairo added that there is a need for a more coordinated action among government health workers, local officials and the public.

   Provincial Epidemiology and Surveillance Unit (PESU) coordinator Ms. Danica Anna Tolentino explained the rationale and overview of the rabies summit, followed by the presentation of Rabies Prevention and Control Program Status on Health of the Province by Mr. Noel Armaknop Rabajante, Provincial Rabies Program Coordinator-PHO, and the presentation of animal rabies status in the province of Laguna by Dr. Michael Cortez, Assistant Provincial Veterinarian. 

   Dr. Cortez stressed the significance of being a very responsible pet owner in preventing the spread of rabies. Pet owners must have their pets vaccinated on a regular basis, he added. 

   He also made an appeal for all local government units to strictly implement existing national and local laws regarding rabies control and to pass laws if there is none in their locality.

   Various topics were tackled during the open forum in the implementation of rabies prevention and control program like availability of human and animal vaccines, issues in the measures of controlling the population of animals specifically dogs and cats, and budget allocations, to name a few. 

   Participants came up with an agreement at the conclusion of the conference.

   First, the most cost effective measure against rabies is through vaccination of dogs; education of dog owners and the public on responsible pet ownership should include restrictions of dog movement within homes or properties. Hence, advocacy for responsible pet ownership and the fight against rabies must be strengthened.

   Second, stakeholders should push for the creation of local ordinances on dog control measures, dog vaccination, and the practice of responsible pet ownership. A master list of municipalities and cities that adopted Republic Act 9482 or Anti Rabies Act must be made.

   Third, conduct regular Rabies Prevention and Control Program Technical Working Group meetings. 

   Fourth, come up with regular updates for Animal Bite Treatment Center (ABTC) personnel. 

   And fifth, conduct stakeholders meeting, including private Animal Bite Centers for better service delivery and public-private partnership (PPP).

   In closing, Cortez expressed that rabies control is indeed the responsibility of everyone. As pet owners, one should only own what one can afford to provide for the animal’s basic needs. Workers from various offices under the provincial government, local government agricultural and veterinarian offices took part in the conference.

(Article by Ruby Ambrosio, photos by Edgard Flores – PIO Laguna)