When

September 2012 to December 2016

Impact in numbers

35% of dogs vaccinated against rabies
More than 170,000 children reached by education activities
Mass vaccination reached 25,248 dogs
2,846 volunteers recruited
Over 300 rabies speakers trained
5 million people in the Bicol Region reached by information campaigns

Partners

UBS Optimus Foundation 

Department of Health Region 5 (Bicol Region) 

Department of Agriculture Region 5 (Bicol Region)

World Organisation for Animal Health (OIE)

Sorsogon, Philippines

Sorsogon is home to more than 700,000 people with an estimated dog population of almost 70,000.

GARC’s partnership with the provincial government of Sorsogon began in September 2012 through the Communities Against Rabies Exposure (CARE) Project.

Mass Dog Vaccination

GARC and its partners trained volunteers to help the Provincial Veterinary Office with the mass vaccination of dogs. These volunteers come from different walks of life, including the Sangguniang Kabataan (Youth Council) members, Barangay (village) Agricultural and Fishery Workers, and village council members.

Since most of the dogs in Sorsogon are free-roaming and cannot be handled easily by their owners during vaccination, project partners were trained on humane dog capture and given equipment to help with the campaign.

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Surveillance and Monitoring

A diagnostic laboratory was established with the support of the provincial government and is now fully functional. To ensure the accuracy and quality of test results, laboratory personnel were trained to process samples with the Research Institute for Tropical Medicine and the Regional Animal Disease Diagnostic Laboratory.  

Human rabies cases in the province have significantly decreased due to patient follow-ups, case investigations and rapid response to suspected and confirmed rabid dogs.

Community Awareness

According to the result of a Community Based Survey (CBS) in 2014, 72% of the respondents had heard of rabies but only 9% had proper knowledge about the disease. The CARE project focused on raising rabies awareness in the community.

Billboards, posters, and banners were developed and placed in strategic public areas including village health centers, marketplace, and Animal Bite Treatment Centers. Leaflets were also distributed during community lectures. 

To expand the reach of rabies education to the general population, GARC also worked with the Philippine Information Agency (PIA) and local radio, television, and print outlets in developing advertisements and activities. Radio is an influential medium in the province as it is still among the community’s main sources of information. Radio plugs on bite prevention and management were aired on selected radio stations. Regional television stations also covered rabies-related activities in the province.

A Kapihan ng Mamamayan (Community Forum) was conducted in coordination with the PIA, in which panelists from the legal, human and animal health sectors were invited to address issues regarding rabies control and prevention with community members.   

Another innovative approach to engage the community in rabies prevention was through community theater. GARC developed a play titled “Tandok?” (Faith Healer?) in collaboration with the Sorsogon Community-Based Theater Group and Bicol University. The play was shown during town festivals and aimed to encourage people to go to Animal Bite Treatment Centers instead of traditional healers.

GARC trained the Barangay Health Workers, who work directly with communities, to deliver awareness messages, along with villlage officials, using GARCs’ Rabies Educator Certificate.


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Education

The Girl Scouts of the Philippines conducts yearly activities which tackle the risk of rabies to children at their troop sessions, talent programs and provincial camps. They also celebrate Rabies Awareness Month and World Rabies Day by holding parades, rallies, and competitions such as jingle-making, poster-making, and face-painting. The Girl Scouts even have a special CARE and World Rabies Day Badge.

Part of GARC’s school-based intervention is the establishment of Rabies Corners in selected elementary schools in the province. The Rabies Corner is a strategic spot within schools that displays reading materials on rabies, responsible pet ownership, and bite management and prevention which students can visit during their free time.

Another activity is the distribution of the “Pamumuhay nang Walang Rabies” (Living without Rabies) flipcharts to elementary and high school students throughout the province. Similar to the curriculum integration in Ilocos Norte, the flipcharts are used to incorporate rabies-related lessons in different subjects. The teachers were also trained and provided with session guides.

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