Boehringer Ingelheim and GARC build momentum across Asia in the fight against rabies

BI Philippines team vaccinates some owned puppies.
Photo courtesy: Boehringer Ingelheim Philippines

As part of their commitment to Sustainable Development, Boehringer Ingelheim (BI) has organized several rabies vaccination programs in 2022 in Asia. BI aims to vaccinate 12,000 animals across Indonesia, Malaysia, Philippines, and Vietnam. To support them in this endeavor, the Global Alliance for Rabies Control (GARC) partnered with BI Singapore to conduct an online workshop on 30 March 2022 that focused on planning a rabies mass vaccination campaign.  

A total of 49 participants attended the workshop, most of which comprised the country team leaders and their vaccination teams from the four countries. Dr. Armin Wiesler, the Regional Country Managing Director and Head of Animal Health for ASEAN, Korea, Australia and New Zealand (ASKAN) and Dr. Thaïs Vila – the new STOP Rabies Project Leader from the BI global team, also attended the workshop.

The workshop aimed to increase the efficiency and effectiveness of the rabies vaccination campaigns organized by the country teams and to help them make data-driven decisions in real-time as the campaigns progress. During the workshop, participants were first provided a refresher about rabies and how the One Health approach is integral in rabies elimination efforts. The main sessions of the workshop then focused on practical guidelines on planning dog vaccination campaigns and using existing surveillance and education tools to maximize the efficiency of these campaigns.

Vaccinator vaccinates a dog while the owner holds it - Philippines.
Photo courtesy: Boehringer Ingelheim Philippines

After a hands-on training on the Rabies Vaccination Tracker (RVT) tool, the group dived straight into a case scenario. The case scenario highlighted the different means to get important information when planning a mass vaccination campaign and also helped to show how different information could influence a strategy in different ways. This emphasized the fact that there is no single vaccination strategy effective across all settings and populations and that adapting to the local situation is critical to success. The participants learnt to tailor strategies based on the available data and developed plans for an effective campaign with the case data.

Following this, the BI Philippines team shared their experience in using the RVT tool during their rabies vaccination campaign in Pangil, Laguna – a campaign that had already started prior to the workshop. The team kicked off their campaign by vaccinating over 400 dogs and cats, while simultaneously capturing the essential data on the GARC app. Having these data processed on the ground while the vaccination team is still on site allows program managers to monitor the campaign in real time and to identify where there are gaps in vaccination. This allows maximum use of resources and time, thus increasing efficiency of a vaccination campaign.

GARC is delighted to partner with Boehringer Ingelheim on this project and will continue to support their rabies elimination efforts globally. We will continue to work with the BI team to further build upon the momentum gained from this workshop and will work with them to deliver long-term and sustainable interventions. We will continue to keep you – the reader – up to date and you can look forward to more updates about this work and our partnership with BI soon! Stay tuned for more!

Learn more about the RVT and the other surveillance tools in the GARC app here.