The BIG FIX Uganda and the impact of being a World Rabies Day 2021 awardee
The BIG FIX Uganda is an organization that operates the only veterinary hospital in Northern Uganda. They provide free services including animal medical care, rabies vaccination clinics, spay and neuter clinics, and community outreach programs. In recognition of their work within the communities of Northern Uganda, the BIG FIX Uganda’s Education Manager, Francis Okello Oloya, won the 2021 World Rabies Day (WRD) “Education Champion” award. We reached out to a representative from the BIG FIX Uganda to find out how the award has impacted them and their ability to support their communities.
The award has greatly benefited our work in Northern Uganda. There was significant interest within Uganda which was sparked by Francis receiving this honor. The award gave credibility to our school outreach and other education programs and created interest with government leaders who were not previously familiar with our efforts. The media attention within Uganda was also significant and drew attention to the issue of rabies and the need to vaccinate dogs against the disease.
“The award gave credibility to our school outreach and other education programs and created interest with government leaders who were not previously familiar with our efforts.”
The award included a cash prize which allowed The BIG FIX Uganda to purchase approximately 1,000 additional doses of rabies vaccine which we would not have otherwise been able to purchase. This has helped us to expand our reach and coverage with village vaccination clinics – enabling more dogs to be vaccinated against rabies.
Perhaps most importantly, we were provided with the Rabies Vaccination Tracker (RVT) tool, which was set up so that we could easily track rabies vaccinations in our region. The training provided by GARC was excellent and the government veterinary officers in the region were also included in the training process, allowing them to also be able to enter and review data at any time.
The vaccination tracking tool has been very easy to use, and it is very easy to review the collected data and to analyze it in many ways. This has proven useful as our team has used the vaccination data to assist us in presentations to local government officials and donors. In our region, there is almost no government support for providing rabies vaccinations, so it is important that the few resources we and the government veterinarians have can be used most efficiently to try to respond to rabies outbreaks. We hope that, prospectively, we will be able to use this tool to help to implement the national strategy for elimination of rabies in Uganda in our region.
“Our team has used the vaccination data to assist us in presentations to local government officials and donors.”
Since receiving the vaccination tracking tool (RVT), we have had three suspected rabies cases in, or bordering on, the area where we work. In response, we implemented strategic vaccination campaigns and used the vaccination tracking tool to monitor our efforts. This gave us an ongoing visual of where there had been recent vaccination events in the areas closest to the suspected rabies cases and allowed us to plan with government leaders where our limited resources should be used to best respond to the rabies outbreaks.
While the community relations and the ability to purchase more vaccine were both wonderful benefits of receiving this award, the biggest game changer for us was the ability to use the vaccination tracking (RVT) tool. We are very grateful to GARC for making this tool available for us in Northern Uganda where rabies remains a serious threat to health and welfare.”
"The biggest game changer for us was the ability to use the vaccination tracking (RVT) tool.”
The WRD awards for 2022 are officially open for nominations. By nominating yourself or a colleague, your organization can also benefit from the same prize and support.
So why wait?! Nominate someone now!
Article contributed by: Sarah Schmidt (The BIG FIX Uganda)