The immediate past Chairman of the Nigerian Veterinary Medical Association (NVMA) FCT Chapter, Dr Ifeanyi Ogbu has called for the establishment of veterinary medical centres in all Local Government Areas in the country.
Ogbu made the call in an interview in Abuja in commemoration of the World Rabies Day, observed every year on Sept. 28.
He said such measure would ensure prompt response to rabies cases at the grassroots and curb it prevalence.
The veterinarian said the implication of the move is that veterinary doctors would be at the reach of the populace at grassroots where the virus emanates.
This year’s World Rabies Day is celebrated with the theme “All for 1- One Health for All.”
Rabies is a deadly virus spread to people from the saliva of infected animals. The rabies virus is usually transmitted through a bite.
Animals most likely to transmit rabies in the United States include bats, coyotes, foxes, raccoons and skunks while In developing countries, stray dogs are the most likely to spread rabies to people.
He blamed the prevalence of rabies in the country on non availability of veterinary medical centres at the rural areas describing the challenge as a major gap in rabies prevention.
“We still have rabies prevalence in rural communities because of lack of veterinary medical centres and all this while we have been calling for government intervention.
“When rabies occurs communities will interprete it as mad dog syndrome but is actually rabies that is killing them.
“So we are lacking a touch in grassroots in rabies prevention because of lack of government veterinary facilities which is the major issue now. We are lacking veterinary care and professionals in the rural communities.
“Most of the professionals when they graduate they head to teaching so there will be no vet left in such places,” he decried.
The veterinarian further urged the government to improve funding for health sector particularly veterinary medicine in annual budgetary allocation.
He blamed the rate of infectious diseases from animals in the country on poor funding of veterinary health sector.
“Government should intensify health sector funding if they want to pass annual budget, allot a lot of money to it because infectious diseases from animals are rampant in this country.
“There will still be more outbreak of diseases from animals so, government at all levels should map out money for health particularly veterinary medicine,” he said.
Speaking on the theme, he emphasised the need for collaboration between human medical doctors, pharmacists, laboratory scientists and attendants and veterinary doctors to look at everything happenings in environment and animals as a pointer to human health.
He says “this is because over 78 percent of the disease that worries man globally are from animals, considering this factor there is need for all stakeholders in health and animal sectors to team up to protect man on the planet.
”The whole essence of the theme is collaboration between stakeholders in animal and human health in the fight against rabies.
“That is if rabies that affect animals particularly dog will end up in affecting man there is need for animal doctors that handles dog and human doctors that handles human to team up to combat this common enemy.”
World Rabies Day inaugurated in September 2007 was aimed at raising awareness and advocacy for global elimination of the dreaded rabies disease that has been set for 2030.
The day coordinated by the Global Alliance on Rabies Control (GARC) is marked annually on September 28, the anniversary of the death of Frenchman Louis Pasteur.