April 2012 to December 2016
Zero human and canine rabies cases for the past 2 years
Average of 38,276 dogs vaccinated per year
Over 80,000 children educated about rabies prevention
173 animal vaccinators and 291 rabies educators trained
1,063 Bantay Rabies sa Barangay Volunteers or Village Rabies Watcher Volunteers recruited
Over 2 million people reached in the Ilocos Region through information campaign
UBS Optimus Foundation
Department of Health Region 1 (Ilocos Region)
Department of Agriculture Region 1 (Ilocos Region)
World Organisation for Animal Health (OIE)
The Philippine province of Ilocos Norte is home to over 500,000 people, with a dog population over half that number.
GARC’s partnership with the provincial government of Ilocos Norte began in April 2012 through the Communities Against Rabies Exposure (CARE) Project. For three years now, there have been no reported human and animal rabies cases in the province. In 2016, the national government recognized the province among the Best Local Government Units (LGU) in the rabies program.
The project showed that eliminating rabies in Ilocos Norte is possible, through community participation, effective leadership and multi-sectoral collaboration. To ensure sustainability, GARC’s efforts focus on building the capacity of the local government structures to maintain surveillance efforts and protect the province against reintroductions of the disease.
GARC has worked with the Ilocos Norte government to help establish Rabies Control Committees at the local level, supporting efforts to allocate funding for rabies prevention work and establish awards for the best rabies prevention programs within the province.
Mass dog vaccination
The provincial government, in collaboration with GARC, has conducted mass dog vaccination programs in the community to control rabies at the source. Bantay Rabies sa Barangay Volunteers or Village Rabies Watcher Volunteers were enlisted to carry out dog registration, vaccinate dogs, assist dog bite victims, and facilitate submission of dog samples for rabies testing. These volunteers include village health workers, nutrition scholars, and members of the village council. The CARE project partners are also trained to capture dogs humanely and carry out dog population surveys.
To make rabies education an integral part of children’s education, a Rabies Prevention Program Manual on Grade School Curriculum Integration and Instruction was developed in collaboration with the DepEd Ilocos Norte Division, PVO, and PHO. The lessons can be integrated into lessons in Art, Math, Social Studies, Science and Health, English and Filipino.
Survey results showed an increase in knowledge of rabies, animal bite prevention, bite management and responsible pet ownership among grades 1 to 6 students after the manual was used for just 5 months. There was also a large decrease in animal bites reported by the students.
GARC’s Early Childhood Intervention Program was also piloted in the province, with pre-school children taught about rabies prevention.
As an offshoot of the curriculum integration, an Inter-School Quiz Bee is held every year as part of their World Rabies Day Celebration. The questions are based on topics from the Rabies Prevention Program Manual.
Based on the community survey carried out by GARC in 2014, 67% knew that rabies would be prevented by vaccinating dogs, however most people still did not have their dogs vaccinated. To address these gaps, GARC took innovative approaches to mobilize community members with different partners.
Agriculture and health officers, village health workers and teachers were trained as speakers in the community. The Rabies Speakers’ Bureau conducts rabies awareness seminars in villages and schools across the province.
To expand the reach of rabies education to the general population, GARC has worked with the provincial communication and media office in developing rabies advertisements and activities for local radio, television, and print media. GARC has also teamed up with the Philippine Information Agency to involve media partners in community education through holding regular Kapihan (media forums) and interviews with the PVO staff.
As Ilocos Norte is a land-locked area, the risk of rabies from nearby provinces is high. Billboards have been put up on highways near the provincial borders while information materials such as posters, stickers, and leaflets reminding people to have their pets vaccinated against rabies before entering the province have been handed out among passengers on public transport.
Diagnostics and surveillance
To ensure sustainability, diagnosticians of the Provincial Rabies Diagnostic Laboratory (PRDL) have been trained in sample collection and biosafety assessment through GARC’s partnership with the Research Institute for Tropical Medicine. The PRDL in Ilocos Norte is now fully functional with regular submission and testing. An active surveillance and protocol for animal bite management has also been put in place in the province.