The 182 Member Countries of the World Organisation for Animal Health (OIE) today passed international standards that enable countries to apply, on a voluntary basis, for the endorsement of their national dog-mediated rabies control programmes. The overall objective will be for affected Member Countries to progressively improve their situation with regard to the disease and eventually be able to report disease freedom on their territory. A key step towards the elimination of human deaths from dog-mediated rabies.
Paris, 30 May 2019 – The knowledge, tools and technologies needed to eliminate dog-mediated rabies all exist. In 2018, a Global Strategic Plan on rabies called « Zero by 30 » was launched to provide countries with a coherent global strategy and practical guidance in their elimination efforts. Developed by the ‘United Against Rabies’ collaboration composed of the OIE, the World Health Organization (WHO), the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO) and the Global Alliance for Rabies Control (GARC), this strategy supports countries in the elaboration of rabies national control plans.
Fighting rabies with a One health approach
One of the expected outcomes of the Strategic Plan « Zero by 30 » is to ensure the development of a coherent set of international standards and guidance to prevent and control rabies across the human and animal health sectors, using a ‘One health’ approach.
In this framework and at the occasion of the 87th OIE General Session, OIE Member Countries have adopted new updates in the Rabies Chapter of the OIE Terrestrial Code, after a thorough review initiated in 2017 with the involvement of OIE experts as well as representatives from the three other partners of the ‘United Against Rabies’ collaboration.
The revised standard now includes guidance for countries to apply, on a voluntary basis, for the endorsement of their national control programmes for dog-mediated rabies. The procedures for applications should be available from next year on and the first programmes will be endorsed in 2021. This will also support the national public health authorities to obtain recognition from WHO for the human health aspect of their national plans, in line with the requirement of the WHO Expert Consultation on rabies.
As recognised by the Global strategic plan, rabies needs to be tackled at the animal source in dogs, and the programmes should therefore include dog vaccination with good quality vaccines, promotion of responsible dog ownership, as well as good integrated surveillance systems in both humans and animals.
Having an OIE endorsed control programme will pave the way for countries to self-declare freedom from rabies, either in the dog population or in all susceptible populations. To date, only 13 active self-declarations of rabies freedom have been communicated to the OIE and are referenced online.
The OIE will continue to support countries through the elaboration and update of standards, the provision of good quality vaccines through its vaccine bank, the dissemination of communications tools to raise public awareness on how to prevent rabies and to advocate for responsible dog ownership as well as good management of stray dog populations.
The revision of the Standard dedicated to this last topic will be initiated in 2019 to ensure a clear alignment with the Global Strategic Plan and to provide recommendations for promoting responsible dog ownership as one of the main drivers to achieving the elimination of dog-mediated human rabies. For more information on the Standard-setting process.
Countries are encouraged to reaffirm their commitment to prioritise rabies prevention, and to develop, implement and lead their national plans to meet their respective goals and, ultimately, achieve a world free from dog-mediated rabies.
About the Global Strategic Plan « Zero by 30 »
Launched in 2018, the global strategic plan « Zero by 30 », aims to coordinate and synergise rabies elimination efforts across sectors and regions. It has been jointly developed by the OIE, the World Health Organization (WHO), the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO) and the Global Alliance for Rabies Control (GARC), which have forged the « United Against Rabies » Collaboration, following a global call for action from the international community in 2015 to achieve an ambitious but realistic goal of zero human dog-mediated rabies deaths.
How will the global strategic plan support countries to end human deaths from dog-mediated rabies?
Dr Gregorio Torres, Head of the OIE Science Department