World Rabies Day “One Health Workshop” works towards rabies elimination in Haiti

27 July 2015

Haiti is currently one of the last countries in the Americas suffering from a significant number of human deaths from canine rabies. As part of the "last mile" of rabies eradication in Haiti, US Army veterinarians are partnering with GARC, Centers for Disease Control, Humane Society International, International Fund for Animal Welfare, Pan American Health Organization and the government of Haiti in the development of a “One Health Workshop” as a part of Continuing Promise 2015.

Continuing Promise 2015 is a medical focused, humanitarian assistance mission delivered by the US Navy aboard the hospital ship, the USNS Comfort. One major goal of the mission is to join with host nation medical professionals in order to build host nation capacity in numerous medical and veterinary fields. The Comfort will visit eleven Caribbean, Central and South American countries over a six-month deployment, and Porte-au-Prince, Haiti is the last mission stop of the event.

The One Health Workshop will have three workgroups designed to promote the establishment of a Haitian rabies eradication plan, train veterinary agents to receive the rabies educator and rabies vaccinator certificates and collaborate with local primary school educators on canine bite prevention and animal welfare.

The workshop will be held just weeks prior to World Rabies Day 2015. The goal of the three-pronged approach is to affect a broader spectrum of the population in Haiti to participate in the rabies eradication effort from the community level to the national level. The overall end goal is the collaborative development of a national rabies control and elimination plan.

The veterinary detachment aboard the USNS Comfort completed numerous vaccine clinics, educational exchanges, and veterinary civil action programs in each country visited during Continuing Promise 2015. In all, approximately 1500 companion animals were vaccinated against rabies in conjunction with host nation veterinarians and veterinary students in the eleven Caribbean, Central and South American countries. You can follow the mission’s progress on their Facebook page.

Contributed by Marc Knobbe MAJ, VC, Battalion Veterinarian of the 98th Civil Affairs Battalion (Airborne), Fort Bragg, USA.