Editorial: Launch of the End Rabies Now campaign – it’s time to make rabies history

Many of you in the rabies community would have already read the news of the launch of the End Rabies Now campaign. This campaign is part of a huge push that we all need to make to finally eliminate canine rabies in the world. We know that this is possible – we have the tools, the evidence and the experience to end this deadly disease. All we need is the political commitment and resources, and it’s time to turn our attention to ensuring that these goals are obtainable by canine rabies-endemic countries.

The End Rabies Campaign is a year-round campaign to bring the world’s attention to the global burden of rabies and its prevention and to help direct resources towards the countries that need it most. GARC is coordinating the campaign on behalf of a number of partners who are major stakeholders in the rabies field in the human and animal sectors. The partner list currently includes the World Health Organization, the Friedrich Loeffler Institute, the World Veterinary Association, the World Small Animal Veterinary Association, Fondation Mérieux, the UBS Optimus Foundation and World Animal Protection and more will be added over the coming weeks and months.

The campaign has been endorsed by GARC’s patron, Professor Alexander McCall Smith, along with Sir Richard Branson, Dame Jane Goodall, Major Levison Wood, Lord Trees and Professor David Heymann. This will help to spread the message that ending rabies deaths is possible and increase support for the elimination of this disease.

The End Rabies Now campaign has no direct fundraising goal; the focus is on highlighting the problem and the progress being made across the world to policy makers and donor institutions and to encourage them to move funds into rabies elimination. There will be additional work done at meetings and events by GARC and its partners to ensure that spending on rabies control programmes are prioritised within international development budgets. In reality, the goal will be reached when all rabies programmes are adequately funded, and there are no more deaths.

End Rabies Now complements the World Rabies Day (WRD) campaigns that focus more on rabies-endemic countries. WRD will continue to provide a platform and support for rabies-prevention events and programmes in these endemic regions. The WRD awareness campaign has also been integrated into the GARC-coordinated regional network activities, such as PARACON in Africa, to provide more structured advocacy and resource support over the year to help rabies programme implementers, from the national to the local levels.

As part of the global rabies community, we invite all of you to support the campaign by signing the pledge and sharing the website with your networks. This campaign was set up to help all of us move forward in our common goal of ending rabies. Please make it your campaign as well.

Louis Nel, Executive Director of GARC