Data-Driven Approach Takes Center Stage in Northeast’s Rabies-Eradication Project

By Sunil Sonkar
2 Min Read
Data-Driven Approach Takes Center Stage in Northeast's Rabies-Eradication Project

In an effort to tackle the challenge of rabies, a project titled ‘Implementing a holistic One Health strategy to eliminate rabies transmitted by dogs from India’ is presently underway in the Northeast. It is led by Dr. Harish Tiwari, a distinguished veterinary epidemiologist.

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India faces the highest human mortality rate from dog-mediated rabies. This results in more than 20,000 human deaths each year. The project aims to collect data from different Northeast regions. The objective is to create a tailored plan to eliminate rabies countrywide.

One Health, the core concept of the project, underscores the interconnectedness of well-being among all living organisms and the need for a balanced ecosystem.

Dr. Tiwari emphasized that existing rabies control measures have been ineffective. They primarily focus on post-exposure prophylaxis for humans or sterilizing free-roaming dogs without comprehensive planning.

The project is funded by DBT-Wellcome Trust India Alliance. It will run for five years. The grant amount is Rs 3.56 crore and it involves collaboration with international institutions. These institutions include the University of Bern, Swiss Tropical and Public Health Institute, University of Glasgow, University of Sydney, Ramaiah International Centre for Public Health Innovations in Bangalore and Gauhati Medical College in Guwahati.

Dr. Tiwari’s team will implement multiple strategies and these include mass vaccination, dog population control, disease surveillance and community awareness. All these will be under the umbrella of One Health. This integrated approach aims to make rabies control more cost-effective and efficient.

While post-exposure prophylaxis can save lives, addressing the root of the problem in free-roaming dog populations is crucial for successful rabies elimination.

As part of the project’s initiatives, a teachers’ workshop is slated to take place in Guwahati. The primary goal would be to enhance children’s awareness regarding rabies and free-roaming dogs. The project’s overarching aim is to create a sustainable and effective means of educating schoolchildren.

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