Learn more about how to protect your pets from rabies. World Rabies Day is a global awareness campaign started and coordinated by the Global Alliance for Rabies Control, a non-profit organization that has headquarters in the United States. World Rabies Day is a United Nations observance and it has been endorsed and supported by various international veterinary and human health organizations such as the World Organisation for Animal Health, the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), the Pan American Health Organization, and the World Health Organization (WHO). World Rabies day takes place on September 28 each year, which is the anniversary of the death of Louis Pasteur who developed the first effective rabies vaccine. This campaign aims to educate the public on how to prevent disease in at-risk communities, support advocacy for increased efforts in rabies control, and spread awareness about the impact that rabies has on humans and animals alike.
Even with major efforts to prevent and control the disease, to this day, rabies is still a significant health problem in several countries of the world. It is in developing countries that 99 percent of all human deaths caused by rabid bites happen and 95 percent of those deaths occur in Asia and Africa. Rabies is such a global issue that Antarctica is the only continent where people and animals are not at risk of contracting the disease.
One of the major problems with preventing rabies is the lack of basic life-saving skills and knowledge among many of the people who are the most at risk. There are several organizations that work on the issue but they often feel isolated and like rabies is an often neglected disease that does not receive sufficient resources. Although the world had all of the tools and knowledge necessary to completely prevent rabies and rabies-related deaths, it can be difficult to bring those resources to the areas that are the most at risk.
Research has shown that health awareness holidays can significantly help to improve policy and funding for diseases, as well as increase the resources necessary to prevent and control them. This observation has led to the implementation of an awareness day specifically for stopping rabies.
The very first World Rabies Day occurred in 2007 as a joint effort between the CDC and the Global Alliance for Rabies Control. The day was co-sponsored by the WHO, the Pan American Health Organization, and the World Organisation for Animal Health. After just three years of World Rabies Days, the Global Alliance for Rabies Control estimated that nearly 3 million dogs had been vaccinated, nearly 100 million people worldwide had been educated, and over 100 countries had been hosts to rabies awareness and prevention events all due to the efforts of the campaign.
World Rabies Day was publically announced as a useful tool in assisting with rabies prevention, through the targeting of at-risk communities. The announcement came from a network of NGOs, vaccine manufacturers, academics, and international government agencies.
Several years following the announcement, government and international agencies were using World Rabies Day as a platform to announce plans, policies, and progress on the elimination of rabies. In 2013, the UN Food and Agricultural Organization, the World Organisation for Animal Health, and the WHO called for the global elimination of canine rabies. The Association of Southeast Asian Nations Rabies Elimination Strategy used the statement to help pilot their own efforts against rabies. Then, in 2015, 33 African countries joined together in what was called the first Pan-African Rabies Control Network meeting and used World Rabies Day as the framework behind their joint efforts to end rabies in their own countries.
World Rabies Day was created in order to have an inclusive day that entailed education, awareness, and action with the aim of encouraging groups from all levels between international and local groups to increase the spread of messages about rabies prevention. Some of the primary objectives of the day include educating people in rabies-endemic countries how to prevent the spread of rabies and raising global awareness about how rabies is spread and how to stop it.
The day is centralized with online platforms where events about World Rabies Day can be registered and where resources that are dedicated to supporting and promoting the outreach of education messages about rabies and can be downloaded or printed. Another major aim of the campaign is to bring relevant partners together in a joint effort to address the best strategies to prevent and control rabies. Those who coordinate the campaign encourage teachers, health care workers, scientists, and the public to access the huge database of rabies awareness resources through the website of the Global Alliance for Rabies Control.
The campaign also encourages the transnational collaboration of rabies control and prevention between nations as rabies is a disease that crosses borders, especially in wild or homeless animal populations. It also promotes the One Health strategy to rabies prevention, which is part of the worldwide strategy for expanding the interdisciplinary communications and collaborations in all areas of human and animal health.
Some of the major advocacy points of World Rabies Day are to promote government involvement in the prevention and control of rabies, to increase the coverage of vaccination of community animals, and to improve the educational awareness on how to control and prevent rabies in all areas of society. Other advocacy aims include the utilization of an integration model for disease management, called the Blueprint for Rabies Prevention. The UN Food and Agricultural Organization calls World Rabies Day an important role in the advocacy of the control and prevention of rabies for policy makers, which is especially important in regions where the dangers of rabies is still neglected.