Bali launches historic campaign to eradicate rabies: WSPA funds efforts for island-wide vaccination programme
21 September 2010 Denpasar, Bali: In a lead up to World Rabies Day the Bali government has just signed an agreement authorising a mass vaccination campaign to inoculate nearly 400,000 dogs as an essential first step towards eradicating rabies from the island by 2012. This first island-wide vaccination programme is being funded by the World Society for the Protection of Animals (WSPA), working closely with the Bali Animal Welfare Association (BAWA), the Bali Government and the Indonesian Central Government.
Mike Baker, Chief Executive Officer of WSPA, said, “By choosing to eradicate rabies through a dedicated vaccination effort, Bali is taking the most effective route to protecting the health of its citizens, as well as the thousands of tourists who visit the island every year. With this campaign, Bali is set to take centre stage and demonstrate a perfect model for rabies control to other countries where rabies continues to be a challenge.”
Following BAWA's successful pilot vaccination scheme this year in two of Bali's regencies, its agreement with the island's government will enable teams of trained animal handlers to inoculate dogs in the remaining seven regencies (Footnote 1). The World Health Organization (WHO) describes such vaccinations as “Globally, the most cost-effective strategy for preventing rabies in people.” (Footnote 2)
The Governor of Bali, speaking at the signing event, said, "The Balinese community live in harmony with their animals and did not want to see them killed, but we did not have a choice in our fight against rabies - thanks to the international community, we now have a humane alternative for protecting our people and our animals."
News of this joint initiative is being welcomed by the international community committed to the common goal of rabies eradication. Deborah Briggs, the CEO of the Global Alliance for Rabies Control, said, “We've seen enough evidence from around the world to reinforce our belief that this mass vaccination project is the single most effective measure in saving the lives of people on Bali.” (Footnote 3)
WSPA has designed the vaccination programme in close consultation with the Bali government, as the authorities will reclaim responsibility for managing and resourcing the scheme following the end of phase one. Efforts in the first phase have been supported by a generous donation from AusAID who donated 370,000 doses of dog vaccine in addition to drugs for human post-exposure treatment from the Bali and Indonesian Central Government.
The Bali government's resuming ownership for the programme will ensure that the critical immunity threshold – of at least 70 per cent of Bali's dog population being vaccinated – is maintained year on year, until the island can safely celebrate being rabies free.