Rabies outbreak: Let’s ask FAO for help, state government advised

A file photo of a mass rabies vaccination programme at Kuching.

KUCHING, Sept 28: State Reform Party Sarawak (Star) is advising the Sarawak government to seek help from the Food and Agriculture Organisation of the United Nations (FAO) to contain the rabies outbreak in the state.

Its president, Lina Soo, said she was alarmed that the number of affected areas in the state had risen to 41 at present.

“The first rabies case was reported on July 4 last year and within 15 months, almost all of Sarawak is now facing the threat of rabies, with at least 13 lives taken needlessly,” she said in a press statement.

Soo supported the call by Dr Natasha Lee, board member of the Society for Prevention of Cruelty Against Animal (SPCA) Selangor yesterday to seek assistance from the Food and Agriculture Organisation of United Nations (FAO) through Dr Eric Brum, the chief technical advisor at Emergency Centre for Transboundary Animal Diseases (ECTAD).

According to Soo, FAO had already successfully carried out an effective programme to coordinate and facilitate rabies control in 2010, where they were able to reduce 11 rabies cases per month to just one per month within 12 months.

“By 2013, there was only one rabies case,” she pointed out.

Soo added that Dr Brum had already developed the model in Bali to control and eliminate the virus in Indonesia. Hence, it is not too late to call out to FAO to bring the programme to Sarawak.

Soo also supported the strategies outlined by Dr Lee to find the rabid dogs, do preventive statewide mass dog vaccinations, give incentives to promote vaccination of dogs from cross-border and educate the public.

She is sceptical of Bukit Assek assemblywoman Irene Chang’s proposal to call for an emergency sitting in DUN as our Sarawak lawmakers are not rabies experts.

“Further distractions will only delay the eradication of rabies from our shores. It will only exacerbate our rabies problem and hold up the technical solution to this resolvable disease,” she argued.

Soo also lambasted State Disaster Management Committee (SDMC) chairman Datuk Amar Douglas Uggah Embas and the Committee for failing to control the rabies outbreak.

“There is no more time to waste with more meetings, exploratory discussions, reviews and assessments when the rabies outbreak is spreading. One more life lost to rabies is one too many,” says Soo. — DayakDaily