May 5, 2014

Press Release/5 May 2014:

 Zero rabies cases by 2020.

 The Departments of Health (DOH) and Agriculture (DA) today signed a Memorandum of Agreement (MOA) to achieve the goal of zero human rabies cases by 2016 with the DOH providing financial assistance to the DA to augment the procurement of anti-rabies vaccines amounting to Php 69,545,000.00. With the DA allocated budget of Php 40M, the joint rabies program now has Php109.5 M fund.

 After the meeting between Health Secretary Enrique Ona and Agriculture Secretary Proceso Alcala, the two agencies came to a conclusion that this partnership will fast track the achievement of zero human rabies cases by 2016, a step toward the goal of rabies-free Philippines by 2020.

 In 2007, Republic Act 9482 or the “Anti-Rabies Act of 2007” was signed into law which strengthened the efforts of the DOH, DA, and partner non-government agencies, non-government organizations and private organizations to control and eliminate rabies in the country.

Currently, there are fifteen provinces and municipalities in the country that have been declared ‘rabies-free’.

 Rabies remains a serious public health problem in the country, responsible for about 200-250 deaths in the country annually. Worldwide, rabies kills approximately 55,000 every year.

 “It is sad to note that we continue to record fatalities on a disease that is 100% preventable. Rabies can be prevented. However, let me underscore that vaccination coupled with responsible pet ownership can help us achieve our goal of a rabies-free Philippines by 2020. And so, therefore, I enjoin everyone in this endeavor”, Ona said.

In 2013, there were 157 recorded deaths due to rabies at the DOH National Epidemiology Center. Most human rabies cases were reported in CALABARZON (35 cases), followed by Cagayan Valley Region (22), Bicol (21), SOCKSARGEN (19) and Davao (16). The National Capital Region reported 9 deaths.

 Ona advised bite victims that they should wash their wound with soap and water for at least 10 minutes and to visit any of the government’s 424 animal bite treatment centers for proper management.  He added that tandok, mananambal and other traditional healing methods, including garlic should not be used as remedies. Also, they should not induce bleeding in the wound as the rabies virus is not found in the blood.