Facts, not Fear in the spotlight for World Rabies Day 2021!
Once again, World Rabies Day shone with over 270 registered events from 58 countries*. For yet another year, we have shown that we - the global community – will continue to fight rabies, irrespective of the circumstances. Despite the continuing challenges that COVID-19 poses in terms of live events and mass vaccination campaigns, rabies advocates across the globe adapted to create some exciting new activities. These events have not only reminded people that rabies is preventable, and that we need to put an end to it, but they also highlighted the importance of facts in the fight against rabies.
Fighting fear with facts this year, many turned to the media to raise public awareness such as Azerbaijan and Iran with interviews and the USA with an article being published. In addition, webinars and online discussions were still prominent, whether held locally like in the cases of Argentina and Malaysia, or on a national level like in the case of the panel discussion held in Peru. China held both an online event coupled with a poster competition, while Pakistan organized a special walk to raise awareness. Many countries use World Rabies Day as the best opportunity to run large scale education and vaccination campaigns, and despite the challenges both of these were prevalent; for example, Burundi and Nigeria ran vaccination drives, Liberia coupled education and vaccination work into one, and Egypt focused on children’s education. One of the most innovative activities this year was held in the Philippines and consisted of a TikTok challenge - this meant people were raising awareness through their participation in a social media challenge!
Supporting the initiatives across the world, GARC offered free downloadable resources for social media, printouts, posters and pretty much anything else needed. From September 3rd to the 30th, GARC’s website was visited by people from 182 different countries; this includes places like Iceland, Macao, US Virgin Islands, Sint Maarten, Syria, and others.
Inspired by your actions and enthusiasm, GARC partnered with stakeholders to hold various events and support the message of Rabies: Facts, not Fear this year. Some of these included supporting the Kept Animals Bill with Battersea and participating in webinars with Βiogenesis Bago and Vets Beyond Borders, and co-hosting webinars with Bavarian Nordic, US CDC, USDA-Wildlife Services, IVSA Standing Committee for One Health and Fondation Merieux. GARC’s very own Dr. Terence Scott was also interviewed on Instagram Live by Bhima Thapa about the upcoming events and the 2021 theme chosen.
Finally, GARC teamed up with Boehringer-Ingelheim this year to celebrate the amazing work of individuals across the globe through the 6th World Rabies Day Awards. The judges had a tough time scoring all the nominations from 27 different countries, but the public votes helped to tip the scales! More than 3,600 public votes came in to support the rabies champions in their work. As a result, 4 people were rewarded for their dedication and outstanding work against rabies with both cash and in-kind prizes to support the continuation of their work.
We, the GARC team, would like to thank you once again for your participation in World Rabies Day 2021 and for helping to successfully shine a spotlight on the facts, rather than the fear.
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Article contributed by: Kerenza Vlastou, Global Alliance for Rabies Control