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Rabies Remains a Challenge in Uganda: 32 People and 130 Animals Lose Their Lives Annually

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In Gomba, Uganda, the nation marked World Rabies Day, an international event aimed at raising awareness about rabies, a viral disease typically transmitted through animal bites. While rabies is preventable, it continues to inflict financial and human costs.

The primary focus of the World Rabies Day activities in Gomba was to educate people about the dangers of rabies, with school children delivering messages about the disease.

Ivan Kizito, the LC5 Chairperson of Gomba District, welcomed officials to the celebration and commended the Ministry’s efforts in vaccinating dogs and cats against rabies. He encouraged more pet owners to participate in the vaccination campaign.

Annually, Uganda reports approximately 13,009 suspected rabies cases in humans through the Ministry of Health’s Health Management System. The incidence rate varies from 42.4 to 56.7 cases per 100,000 people. Additionally, over 975 suspected cases are recorded in animals each year, with an average of 32 human deaths and 130 animal deaths attributed to rabies.

The cost of anti-rabies treatment for humans and vaccines for animals in Uganda exceeds 7 billion Uganda shillings and 1 billion shillings, respectively, each year.

Dr. Flavia Nakanjako, a Senior Veterinary Officer from the Ministry of Agriculture, Animal Industry and Fisheries (MAAIF), stated that the government is actively implementing the rabies elimination strategy in Uganda, guided by the National Rabies Elimination Strategy (2022-2030). This strategy emphasizes mass vaccination of animals, including dogs and cats, vaccination of at-risk individuals, awareness campaigns, improved surveillance, and resource allocation to combat rabies.

Dr. Resty Baliyana, the District Veterinary Officer for Gomba District, urged pet owners to keep their animals within their premises to prevent rabies transmission.

The Uganda Veterinary Association (UVA) participated in the national celebrations, with activities taking place in various districts. UVA has partnered with MAAIF and other stakeholders to commemorate World Rabies Day in different districts over the years.

Dr. Daniel Kasibule, UVA President, expressed gratitude for the collaboration and highlighted the ongoing efforts in rabies awareness and prevention, employing a One Health approach.

In Kapchorwa, a veterinary team vaccinated 397 pets, performed 17 surgeries, and conducted awareness activities in schools and radio talk shows.

Dr. Levi Cheptoyek, leading the Kapchorwa veterinary team, thanked VSF Germany, Dr. Saul Chemonges, UVA, and Kapchorwa local government for their contributions to rabies awareness in Sebei.

In Northern Uganda, teams vaccinated 862 animals in Pabbo, Amuru District.

Dr. Nabadda Sitenda Madrine, Vice President of the Uganda Veterinary Association, expressed gratitude to all participants for their dedication to ending rabies by 2030 during the World Rabies Day event in Gomba District.