Animal health professionals take Zanzibar one step closer to rabies elimination.

Data recording using the GARC mobile phone app (RVT).

The Government of Zanzibar, GARC, and other partners have been collaboratively working towards rabies elimination in Zanzibar since 2017. Every year we revise, adapt, and improve our approach as we better understand the situation and develop new tools and resources to help us achieve success. While the approach might change slightly every year, one thing remains constant and that is that the animal health professionals across the island need to implement the plan by going out into the communities to vaccinate the dogs in a safe and humane manner.

While there is very little that the relatively small team of 15 vaccinators does not know about Zanzibar’s dog population and the importance of the annual rabies vaccination campaign, they still face a monumental task as they need to visit more than 200 shehia (villages) over the course of a few months! It is for this reason that GARC’s recent support focused on helping the vaccinators become more efficient by enabling them to track the location of each vaccinated animal using the Rabies Vaccination Tracker (RVT) tool on the GARC App.

Maps showing vaccinations across Zanzibar

While adding another step in the vaccination process might seem like more work, using the RVT tool is quick and simple to use (it takes less than 10 seconds to record a vaccinated animal). The resulting maps and graphs are especially important and are a great motivational driver to the vaccinators. In fact, the campaign quickly reached the point where the vaccinators were asking to see the latest maps at the end of the day so that they could see whether they had done enough during the day and plan for the following day’s work – suggesting that the vaccination events had turned from a “daily task” to a “purpose” for them.

By simply empowering the vaccinators to perform to the best of their abilities, more than 5,700 dogs and 500 cats have been vaccinated across the island over the course of four months, resulting in approximately 67% of the island’s dog population being protected against rabies. And the best news is that the campaign is not even finished yet, with more dog vaccinations scheduled for the coming months!

Photo collage of vaccination teams in Zanzibar supported by GARC

While these numbers are important from a disease-control perspective, it’s also important to celebrate the vaccinators who did the hard work that was required to reach those numbers, all while smiling and always having time to talk to the community members about rabies, responsible dog ownership, and animal welfare.

You can help us support Zanzibar’s rabies elimination efforts by making a small donation. Every US$ 3 ensures that the government can vaccinate one more dog on the island, in so doing helping them take one step close to becoming the first region in Africa to become free from dog-transmitted rabies.

Donate now.