The Partners for Rabies Prevention support progress towards ‘Zero by 30’

The Partners for Rabies Prevention meeting held in August brought together over 40 representatives from 27 organizations to discuss international efforts to support countries as they move forward in their canine rabies elimination efforts. The delegates reflected a diverse range of stakeholders in rabies control, including International organizations, rabies experts, academics, vaccine manufacturers and non-governmental organizations.

PRP Group meeting. Photo: GARC

What emerged was a strong commitment from organisations at the international level to work together to provide concrete support to countries planning and implementing rabies elimination strategies, in the move towards an end to canine-transmitted human rabies by 2030.

Attendees highlighted several recent international meetings involving rabies experts, and reported that coordinated revisions of both OIE and WHO guidance documents are currently being discussed. The OIE reported that its Rabies Vaccine Bank is now able to handle requests from any member country, and payments can be received through several different mechanisms, allowing for endemic country purchases as well as donations. A vaccine stockpile for human vaccine is being planned by WHO to fulfil a similar need on the human side.

Recent modelling work presented the scope of what reaching zero human rabies deaths globally by 2030 would entail. It provided the canine vaccine forecasting data necessary and an appreciation of the scale of capacity building in terms of human resources that will be necessary to achieve this goal.

There was a detailed review of recent developments in tools that are already, or soon will be available to all countries in support of their rabies elimination planning and capacity building.

It is very clear that improved data and reporting will be vital in assessing global progress towards freedom of human rabies. With this in mind, an encouraging update was provided on how integration of the African Rabies Epidemiological Bulletin into WHO’s global health observatory data is envisaged for the near future. And discussions were initiated on what other mechanisms might be useful to monitor progress towards the global goal and advocate for further funding to be directed towards rabies elimination efforts.

As always in this forum, there was scope for participation from all attendees and suggestions of improvements and further work still needed. Overall, however, it was clear that the tools and mechanisms worked on over the last decade by the PRP group and others around the world are maturing into a comprehensive package of support that countries can access to support their elimination efforts.

At the end of the meeting, the group endorsed the global goal of zero human deaths from dog-transmitted rabies by 2030, and called for the accelerated implementation of these tools in rabies-endemic countries; for all countries to make rabies elimination a priority; and for further cooperation and concerted action from all players to bring freedom from rabies closer to all communities.

Contributed by Louise Taylor, GARC’s PRP coordinator