Workshop evaluates rabies control activities in Cameroon using the SARE tool

With the global drive towards canine-mediated human rabies elimination by 2030, many countries are planning, developing or refining national control strategies with renewed vigour in an effort to reach freedom from dog-mediated human rabies within the globally agreed timeframe.

Cameroon, a Global Health Security Agenda (GHSA) member country, is leading the fight within the central African region and has taken the first critical step towards controlling and eliminating rabies by developing an up-to-date and comprehensive national control strategy. The development of the national strategy for rabies started in September 2016 when all of the governmental stakeholders came together to assess the country’s specific needs and requirements. The conclusions of the initial stakeholder meeting in 2016 were built upon during a focussed in-country workshop entitled: “Workshop focused on evaluating the rabies control activities in Cameroon using the "SARE" tool” (Atelier d'evaluation de activities de lutte contre la rage au Cameroun à l'aide de l'outil "SARE"), held on 10 and 11 January 2017.

The in-country workshop, supported by GARC and the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) collaboratively, focussed on bringing the national champions from across the country together to complete the “Stepwise Approach towards Rabies Elimination” (SARE) assessment scoresheet for Cameroon. The 23 meeting attendees originated from the Ministry of Public Health, Ministry of Livestock Farming and Animal Industries,the Centre Pasteur du Cameroun and Cameroon-based staff of Metabiota (the in-country partner responsible for managing GHSA funds); encompassing a comprehensive panel of experts.

Over the course of the two-day workshop, the national stakeholders used the SARE assessment scoresheet to evaluate the strongpoints and existing shortcomings of the current rabies situation within the country, while also identifying core activities that will need to be addressed in the national control strategy that is under development. The SARE assessment scoresheet is not intended to replace any existing or developing control strategies, but should be routinely implemented as a monitoring and evaluation tool that 1) assists in self-assessments, 2) the planning of the logical progressive steps and 3) provides a mechanism for the measurement of progress within project sites. The SARE assessment scoresheet is firmly embedded under the Organization section within the Global Framework “STOP-R”.

Additionally, the meeting participants prioritized short-term objectives for the 2017 – 2018 period to ensure continued progress towards controlling and eliminating rabies.

These 7 short-term activities included the following:

  1. Reviewing the country’s legal framework in order to determine its appropriateness
  2. Submitting animal or human samples biannually to an international laboratory for diagnostic confirmation
  3. Designing and implementing a comprehensive Information, Education and Communication (IEC) plan for a selected pilot area within the country
  4. Undertaking consolations with stakeholders in order to develop humane canine population management strategies
  5. Ensuring that the existing intersectoral working groups and committees on rabies meet at least twice a year
  6. Establishing mechanisms whereby emergency funds can be mobilized in the event of identified rabies outbreaks
  7. Establishing a coordinated surveillance system for human and animal rabies within the country

At the end of the workshop, the current SARE score was identified for Cameroon. The SARE assessment scoresheet indicates that Cameroon is officially on Stage 1,5, which is in line with a country that is developing a national control strategy (a Stage 2 milestone). With the strong linkage between the SARE assessment scoresheet and the rabies blueprint (BP) the prioritized activities in Cameroon can be addressed in a concise and efficient manner, thereby ensuring the rapid progression of the control and elimination of rabies in Cameroon.

Contributed by Andre Coetzer of GARC who coordinated the SARE assessment during in the workshop.