It takes teamwork

GARC has always sought to fill the gaps that prevent rabies control activities from achieving their best outcomes and to take advantage of partnerships that allow us to do that. In the latest issue of the newsletter, we see a number of different initiatives that demonstrate how GARC and our partners—from individuals to national governments—are helping to protect communities at risk from the burden of rabies.

A Stepwise Approach to Rabies Control workshop was recently completed by the Cameroon government with support from GARC as well as the US CDC and Metabiota. Rabies experts from all around Cameroon gathered together to identify areas of rabies prevention that need attention and resources and to prioritise activities will speed up progress towards rabies elimination.

In a similar collaboration, the GARC South African team recently joined a large number of partners in East Africa, using a regional meeting to build capacity in rabies control activities across a number of different countries. In addition, leaders of the rabies control network across Latin America joined the meeting, lending their own experiences from successful rabies control initiatives to support and encourage new programs in Africa. Learning from the successes of others can make the best use of scant resources and to avoid mistakes than can delay future successes.

A series of documentary videos developed by journalism students from the University of Los Baños in the Philippines spreading awareness about the risk of rabies and ways to control it, but also educated the students themselves. Some of the next generation of journalists now has personal insight into the teamwork between communities and the authorities that is necessary to overcome the challenges of controlling diseases such as rabies in vulnerable communities.

The theme of partnership is also echoed by the article profiling Dr. Agnes Korir, one of this year’s winners of the MSD Animal Health World Rabies Day awards. Fulfilling the award’s remit to recognise those advocating for change in their communities, this winner is a truly inspirational lady who has turned personal tragedy into hope for so many others through her vaccine donation programs and her unceasing commitment to raising awareness of rabies in Kenya.

We were delighted with the success of our year-end fundraising effort, which, thanks to your support, will allow our partners at Onderstepoort Veterinary Institute to distribute 3,000 copies of our bite prevention booklet to children in rural South Africa.

Lastly, I recently had the privilege of experiencing how our team in the Philippines works with its many partners firsthand. As we went into meetings, communities and clinics, I met a whole range of people from village leaders to provincial veterinarians to record keepers at the bite treatment clinics to the manager of the national rabies programme and academics. Each has an important role in working towards the Philippines goal of rabies freedom by 2020. Through collaboration, we can problem solve together and come up with better solutions to the challenges we face.

We are all in the fight against rabies together and we all have a role in leading, joining or supporting initiatives wherever we see opportunities to advance our mission to End Rabies Now.

Contributed by Louise Taylor, GARC