SORSOGON CITY, Feb. 25 (PIA) — For the past two years, the Provincial Veterinary Office (PVO) has recorded a very significant decrease in rabies incidence in Sorsogon with barely five human and six canine cases as compared to the data way back in 1999 with about 39 cases.
This is good news for Sorsogon, however, it is irrefutable that rabies remains a serious public health problem in the country, as the Department of Health (DOH) says.
To put a halt to this, the provincial government of Sorsogon, through the Provincial Veterinary Office (PVO), forged partnership with the Global Alliance for Rabies Control (GARC), a world leading organization working towards the global control of rabies.
“The provincial government, under the auspices of Gov. Raul R. Lee, is enormously determined to achieve a rabies-free Sorsogon and we want the communities here to have an improved educational awareness to prevent exposure to rabid dogs, and likewise, eliminate or control the source of infection in dog and human population,” said Dr. Enrique Espiritu, provincial veterinarian.
He said that through the Communities Against Rabies Exposure (CARE) Project of GARC, the coordination of surveillance, molecular epidemiology, dog population model control, veterinary and public health system protocols will be facilitated. Furthermore, the incidence of public health problems associated with dogs as vectors will significantly be reduced.
”At present, most of the human cases we have recorded here were not actually bitten by dogs in Sorsogon. But just the same, we need not to be lax, massive dog vaccination is still needed because it is cost effective and sustainable in controlling rabies rather than those other interventions aimed only at humans,” he stated.
He also added that more dogs are getting vaccinated in Sorsogon and they are hoping that eventually, the local government will be able to vaccinate 70 percent of the 52,121 dog population all throughout the province within the targeted time frame.
In an effort to further intensify the implementation of the Provincial Anti-Rabies Elimination Program, the provincial government tapped the Sangguniang Kabataan (SK) of the 541 barangays in Sorsogon as volunteer vaccinators.
“We found the SKs to be effective partners in the program implementation because aside from being vaccinators themselves, they can influence their peers and family members, and as our future leaders, it is good that at an early age, we are exposing them to the severity of this deadly infectious disease,” Dr. Espiritu said.
PVO record shows that 3,655 dogs have been vaccinated in Sorsogon City in just a span of less than three weeks since they oriented the SKs last January 28, 2013.
Dr. Espiritu also reported that some 100 rabisin vials were initially distributed to the towns of Irosin, Donsol, and Magallanes while distribution to other municipalities is ongoing. The PVO is also expecting accomplishment reports from the said municipalities a month after the vaccination.
Espiritu also mentioned that LGUs in the province have their respective anti-rabies ordinances and some of them were already amended. However, the local chief executives struggled with the implementation due to budget constraints.
Nevertheless, with the partnership now and the inspiration brought by the success story of the anti-rabies program in Bohol, both the provincial government and GARC are optimistic that the same success can be achieved in Sorsogon, targeting a sustainable rabies-free province by empowering communities to take responsibility as well as develop and share adequate mechanisms for sustainability.
Meanwhile, to strengthen the program, Governor Raul R. Lee issued an Executive Order (EO) Number 002 Series of 2013, which allows the ratification of the ordinances in Section 7 (Pet Owners’ Penalties) of the Republic Act 9482 or the Anti-Rabies Act of 2007 and created a task force to intensify the implementation of anti-rabies program in the province.
Likewise, the provincial government entered into a memorandum of agreement (MOA) with GARC represented by its Coordinator for Asia, Dr. Mary Elizabeth Miranda, to achieve a rabies-free Sorsogon.
Local chief executives of Bulan, Prieto Diaz, Bulusan, and Barcelona immediately signified support to the said MOA which also provides for trainings to be conducted by the PVO for their respective youths.
The League of Municipal Mayors of the Philippines (LMP)-Sorsogon Chapter President and Barcelona Mayor Manuel Fortes, Jr. also encouraged its members to participate in the noble task and ensure compliance with the mandates of the governor’s directives.
“Moving towards a rabies-free Sorsogon, the CARE program also strengthens the Information, Education and Communication (IEC) Campaign by coming up with tarpaulins, posters, and billboards installed in strategic places across the province. We have also produced and distributed flyers and leaflets translated into two versions, one for the Sorsoganons of the first district and another for the second district,” said GARC Communication Officer Dane Medina.
Medina further stated that aside from this, the program also educates the communities on how to stay safe around animals, danger signs to look for, what to do in case of a bite, and guidelines for good pet stewardship.
“But in the event that dog biting cannot be avoided, the bitten individual can manage bite incidence like washing the wound with soap under running water and consulting a doctor or seeking the nearest Animal Bite Treatment (ABT) Center in their locality,” she also added.
At present, Sorsogon has five Animal Bite Treatment Centers located in each Inter-Local Health Zones (ILHZ): Dr. Fernando Duran Sr. Memorial Hospital (Provincial Hospital) and City Health Office in Sorsogon City for JUCCASOM (Juban, Casiguran, Castilla, Sorsogon City and Magallanes); Irosin District Hospital for BIMS (Bulan, Irosin, Matnog and Sta. Magdalena); Gubat District Hospital for GUPRIBBAR (Gubat, Prieto Diaz, Bulusan and Barcelona); and in Donsol District Hospital for SOLAR (Donsol and Pilar). (MAL/BAR-PIA 5, Sorsogon)