Sorsogon Gears Up To Boost Its Rabies Advocacy Program

In an effort to intensify its rabies elimination program, the Provincial Government of Sorsogon, spearheaded by the Provincial Veterinary Office (PVO) and the Philippine Information Office (PIA)-Sorsogon held a Media Advocacy Workshop at Casa Dominga, Sorsogon City. The workshop, which aims to empower and educate media practitioners on fundamental concepts on rabies prevention and elimination and responsible pet ownership was conducted in partnership with the Global Alliance for Rabies Control (GARC).

The event is the first of a series of workshops that will be conducted by GARC under its Media Advocacy Program, as an integral component of its Advocacy, Communication, and Education (ACE) campaign. GARC considers media practitioners to be essential partners in their rabies elimination program. Similarly, the role of media practitioners is deemed crucial especially in processing technical information into mainstream knowledge presented in the media.

The media outlets (print, radio, TV) in the province were well-represented, with more than 20 representatives participating in the event.  Likewise in attendance were Provincial Veterinarian, Dr. Enrique Espiritu; PIA-Sorsogon Information Center Manager, Ms.Benilda Recebido; Dr. Liduvina Dorion from the Provincial Health Office; and GARC Asia Director, Dr. May Elizabeth Miranda. The event’s resource speaker, Prof. Sherwin Joseph Felicidario from the University of the Philippines Los Baños-College of Development Communication spoke about the role of communicators and the importance of effectively communicating health messages to the public.

Sorsogon has relentlessly campaigned for a rabies-free province over the years. In September 2012, the province teamed up with GARC, an international non-profit organization committed to eliminate human deaths from rabies and relieve the burden of rabies in animals, especially dogs. Along with this collaboration, Governor Raul Lee issued the Executive Order Number 002 Series of 2013, ratifying the ordinances in Section 7 (Pet Owners’ Penalties) of Republic Act 9482 of the Anti-Rabies Act of 2007 and creating a task force supporting its implementation. The GARC-Sorsogon Rabies Project was formally launched last 05 March 2013.

The province is also one of the recipients of the GARC Communities Against Rabies Exposure (CARE) Project along with the Provinces of Ilocos Norte and Sorsogon, Marikina City and Cainta Municipality in the Philippines, and Nias Island in Indonesia. The CARE project is one of GARC’s key initiatives, which aims to engage government authorities, global scientific community, and most importantly, communities to expand novel integrated models to include multiple diseases and other public health concerns.

Other activities initiated by GARC include the World Rabies Day, celebrated every 28th of September to raise awareness about the impacts of rabies on humans and animals; and the Partners for Rabies Prevention (PRP), a group whose goal is to unite leading public-private rabies control stakeholders and lead the “research to policy” debate. 

Rabies is a highly fatal disease which occurs in over 150 countries and territories worldwide. Every year, over 55,000 die of this disease, mostly in Asia and Africa. According to the Department of Health-National Center for Disease Prevention and Control (DOH-NCDPC), 300-600 Filipinos die annually and one third of these deaths are children who are less than 15 years old.