Northern Vietnam remains the region with the highest number of death from rabies, accounting for 80 percent of the country’s mortality, deputy director of the Department of Preventive Medicine Dang Quang Tan said at a meeting yesterday.
The meeting on strengthening intersectoral approaches for rabies prevention and control in high-risk provinces in the north of Vietnam was held by the Department of Preventive Medicine and the National Institute of Hygiene and Epidemiology (NIHE) in partnership with the Department of Animal Health under the Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Development, the World Health Organisation (WHO) and One Health.
It gathered representatives of 18 northern cities and provinces which recorded a high number of death from rabies from 2018 – 2019, including Hoa Binh, Lao Cai, Thanh Hoa, Bac Giang, Thai Nguyen, Vinh Phuc, Phu Tho, Nghe An, Son La, Dien Bien, Tuyen Quang, Yen Bai, Ha Giang, Lai Chau, Lang Son, Hai Phong, Hai Duong and Hanoi.
The delegates discussed the role of stakeholders from the central to local levels in preventing rabies, experience of each locality and challenges in rabies prevention today. They pointed out that Vietnam has failed to sustainably reduce the number of fatalities from rabies and effectively supervise domestic dogs. At the same time, the rabies vaccination rate in dogs in many localities remained low while people living in remote areas have limited access to rabies vaccine.
Tan said rabies is a dangerous infectious disease with a very high mortality rate and most deaths from rabies occur because people aren’t aware of the consequences and don’t go to get vaccinated after being bitten. Most falities happen in rural areas where dogs are often let roam free and not vaccinated, he added.
He went on to say that the country has been making efforts to control rabies and seen a decrease in the number of death from rabies for three consecutive years from 2015 – 2017. However, the number of fatalities increased again last year, rising to 103 from 74 in 2017, he noted.
In the first half of 2019, the country reported 46 deaths from rabies in 24 cities and provinces with Son La recoding six cases, the highest number.
According to the NIHE, rabies is the main cause of the most deaths from infectious diseases in Vietnam. About half a million people get vaccinated as a preventive measure from rabies but in reality, the number of people bitten by animals is much higher.
The institute emphasised that vaccination is the only way to prevent human mortality from rabies.–VNA