The Rabies Educator Certificate takes off
“Every 10 minutes, somewhere in the world, someone dies of rabies”. It is estimated that 59,000 people die of rabies every year with 84.7 % of the population of the world still at risk of canine rabies. This is despite the fact that this highly fatal disease is 100% preventable (Hampson et al, 2015).
With these staggering figures in mind, the Global Alliance for Rabies Control’s Partners for Rabies Prevention informal expert group recognized the need for a coordinated approach to rabies education. Based on this need the GARC Education Platform (GEP) was established and the Rabies Educator Certificate (REC) was the first free course to be established. The REC was developed as a free online course to effectively disseminate accurate, life-saving information regarding rabies to at-risk communities throughout the world.
The REC is hosted as a free online course and is self-paced, so participants can complete it in their own time, although it should take between four and seven hours in total depending on previous knowledge and experience. In order to accommodate potential participants with slow or intermittent internet access, the entire course contents can be downloaded as a small PDF file and studied offline, with no specific deadline to complete the course.
In order to make the REC more accessible, French and Spanish versions of the online course have been officially launched. The “Certificat de formateur sur la rage” (CFR) can be accessed directly by registering at https://education.rabiesalliance.org/login/index.php?lang=fr, and "El certificado de educador sobre la rabia (CER)" can be accessed by registering at https://education.rabiesalliance.org/login/index.php?lang=es.
The course contents were designed to encapsulate clear and specific information that should be applicable to all situations regardless of geographical location and circumstances, making the information truly globally relevant.
The REC consists of five modules, each addressing key factors that are crucial in understanding rabies prevention and how to convey this life-saving information. The modules cover:
- What is rabies and how do people and animals get the disease?
- How to avoid dog bites and prevent rabies
- Caring for animals
- Understanding the role of a community educator in preventing dog bites and rabies in general.
- Communicating lifesaving information to people
Once a participant has gone through the course, there is a final online assessment. Participants need to score at least 85% in this final assessment to pass and receive a certificate. The personalized certificates will also serve as a proof of readiness to provide lifesaving information to their target communities.
Since the official launch of the REC in February 2015 at the Asian rabies expert meeting in Thailand, users from across the world have enrolled for the course. Of the registered users, more than 500 (as of November) have become qualified rabies educators, from countries across the African and Asian continents – all countries where the knowledge obtained can be put to good use within their communities.
Written by Andre Coetzer, REC Coordinator, GARC and Dr. Sarah Jayme, Country Representative, GARC.