Fighting Rabies in Liberia

R 4Theme of the day

The theme of the day was pretty straightforward, “Kick Rabies out of Liberia!”

The regional coordinator of LAWS, Morris Darbo, gave the keynote address, announcing that this was the very first time that World Rabies Day had ever been celebrated in Liberia, and that this marked the start of raising awareness in the way that is really needed to combat this disease. Rabies can only be “kicked out of Liberia” if everyone recognizes that it’s a disease of both animals and humans — and we can only have a healthy society when the health of both humans and all living creatures is important to all of us.

He expanded this to other zoonotic diseases, “Our pets are our relatives; they are part of our families,” calling on the government to include animal health concerns along with human health concerns. The government must provide rabies vaccines for dogs as part of community health care in Liberia. To defeat rabies, it is essential that a veterinary facility be provided with the rabies vaccines and that rabies education be included in the school curriculum.

He pointed out that in cases where authorities have responded to a rabies outbreak by killing the dogs that this has only made the problem worse, since dogs from outlying areas then move into the cities to fill the void left by the dogs who have been killed. The best defense against rabies is a stable population of dogs who have been vaccinated against rabies.