Press release: One Health heroes celebrated with World Rabies Day Awards

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The World Rabies Day Awards celebrate unsung heroes who keep their communities safe from rabies. On the occasion of One Health Day, the Global Alliance for Rabies Control  (GARC) and MSD Animal Health are honoured to announce this year’s award recipients from across the world.

The 2017 World Rabies Day Award recipients are Nowzad (Afghanistan), Lilongwe Society for the Protection and Care of Animals (Malawi), Kurdistan Organization for Animal Rights Protection (Iraq), Suvis Sao Miguel Paulista (Brazil), Dr Rakesh Chand (Nepal), Mr Mawethu Kunyu (South Africa), Mr Bojan Veselica (Bosnia & Herzegovina) and Dr Kelly Crowdis (Haiti).

Their inspiring work includes organising mass vaccination campaigns, outreach into communities to administer vaccinations and educate families, improving shelter conditions, training local health workers, vaccinations in migrant camps and advocating for better laws. The Awards hope to encourage more support for their work and shine a light on some of the great community  efforts going on around the world to end rabies.  

Dr Kelly Crowdis of the Christian Veterinary Mission, recipient under the Individual – Americas category:

I am honored to be a recipient of a 2017 World Rabies Day Award and to receive this acknowledgement from the global community for the great strides Haiti has made to control canine rabies. The progress we have made would not be possible without Dr. Max Millien, Agr. Ing. Ludder Fleurinors, Vet Tech. Pierre Dilius in the Haitian Ministry of Agriculture. We plan to use these funds to market a local, ethically produced artisanal product which will be distributed internationally to create a sustainable income to fund a human rabies vaccine bank for persons who cannot afford the vaccine or travel expenses for vaccination, since the vaccine is only available in metropolitan centers. It will also support the purchase of training materials for our childhood rabies prevention school course which educates over 5,000 children annually.

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Mawethu Kunyu in South Africa

Rabies kills around 59,000 people around the world every year, and although it is almost 100% fatal, it is also 100% preventable.  It is a model One Health disease, with coordinated action required across the human and animal health sectors to make a difference.

Dr Sulaiman Tamer Saed from Kurdistan Organization for Animal Rights Protection, award recipient in the Organisations – MEEREB category:

This award gives me the strength, stability, insistence and determination to progress towards working day and night to educate the common people of Kurdistan and the Kurdistan Regional Government, especially the relevant authorities such as health, veterinary, environment, municipalities, tourism, media and education of the seriousness of zoonotic diseases, specially Rabies .

As the major international organisations gear up efforts to eliminate this deadly disease by 2030, with the launch of a One Health strategic plan by the World Health Organization (WHO), the World Organisation for Animal Health (OIE), the Food and Agriculture Organization of the UN (FAO) and GARC, it is important to recognise the immense role played by the thousands of organisations and individuals working tirelessly at the community level to save the lives of people and animals.

Dr Rakesh Chand, recipient in the Individuals – Asia category:

Fighting against Rabies is my passion, but a tough passion to follow. This award is a pat on my back confirming I am on the right track. A motivation to push my efforts even more. I will be receiving this honor on behalf of Nepal, my fellow Veterinarians and the many organizations which are fighting tirelessly towards Rabies control. This is not just an encouragement for me but also for many others, especially the youngsters back home.This achievement is sure to spur a wave of individuals and organizations committed towards making a stop to the disease. The situation is bad, but the dream for a Rabies free better tomorrow will continue.

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Lilongwe SPCA in Malawi

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­­­­­­­­­­­­­­­­For photos of the award recipients or further comment, please contact [email protected]

A complete list of the award recipients is available here.

World Rabies Day Awards: World Rabies Day, held every year on September 28th, is observed by the United Nations as an International Day. Coordinated by the Global Alliance for Rabies Control, it is a day to raise awareness about rabies and how to prevent this deadly disease, and hundreds of events are held around this day by organisations and individuals around the world.

The World Rabies Day Awards, now in their second year, aim to highlight the work done by dedicated individuals and organisations to end rabies in their communities. Two awards (one for individuals and one for organisations) are given in each region - Asia, Sub-Saharan Africa, MEEREB and the Americas, with a focus on community-based initiatives. Organised by Global Alliance for Rabies Control and MSD Animal Health, each award consists of US$ 1,200 or resources of equal value, an award plaque and a certificate.

The Award shortlist was announced on World Rabies Day. The judging panel consisted of individuals from the WHO, FAO, OIE, CDC, MSD Animal Health and GARC, along with votes from MSD employees.