Chikwawa District forms task force to fight rabies

Chikwawa: Department of Animal Health and Livestock Development in Chikwawa has formed a rabies task force as one way of assisting communities to effectively fight against the disease in the district.

District Animal Health and Livestock Development Officer, Phillip Bege told Malawi News Agency (Mana) on Saturday that the district decided to establish Chikwawa rabies task force with the objective of implementing district-wide mass dog vaccination campaigns.

He said the department of animal health has arrived at the initiative following increasing challenges faced during the vaccination process due to insufficient of funds which leads to failure in purchasing adequate anti-rabies vaccines.

The Officer claimed that people in the district do not understanding the importance of taking dogs for vaccination, saying the conduct of most residents in the district also undermines efforts of containing rabies.

”We have a population of more than 30,000 dogs in Chikwawa, but when it comes to vaccination period we only vaccinate less than 10,000 dogs due to insufficient anti-rabies vaccines. Besides, other people also neglect their responsibility to take their dogs for vaccination, Bege added.

He pointed out that the agriculture sector would use the task force as tool for sensitizing the masses about vaccination and also as a resource mobilization agent to keep the spirit of fighting rabies alive considering that the sector was always faced with shortage of anti-rabies vaccine.

”We received inadequate funds from government, in case of an eventuality, it would be difficult for us to competently handle the situation because we do not have enough vaccines in stock to cater for all dogs in the district,” Bege explained.

He disclosed that the department of animal health and livestock development receives K4 million for a one-off vaccination campaign against a requirement of K 25 million for the whole district.

The Officer viewed that the task force would reach out to all dogs with the anti-rabies vaccine and catch all stray dogs with the supervision of trained stray dogs defenders.

”We are ready to conduct mass awareness on the importance of vaccination to the dogs so that we can reduce cases of rabies. We have formed a group of stray dogs defenders which will be capable of taming and eliminating stray dogs,” he emphasized.

Chikwawa Rabies Task Force (CRTF) has been formed with support from Nchalo Illovo Sugar Company, Malawi Red Cross Society and UNICEF, among others.

Source: Malawi News Agency MANA