Sarawak govt allocates RM7 mln to combat rabies

Department of Veterinary Services Sarawak director Dr Adrian Susin Ambut (right) presents a token of appreciation to Dr Sim while Padawan Municipal Council (MPP) chairman Lo Khere Chiang looks on at the World Rabies Day 2021 Sarawak event in Kuching on Oct 2, 2021. Photo: Sarawak Information Department

KUCHING, Oct 2: The Sarawak government has approved an allocation of RM7.07 million this year under the “Plan of Action For Rabies Control and Eradication Programme 2021” to combat rabies in the State.

Deputy Chief Minister Datuk Amar Douglas Uggah Embas said the State government is serious in eliminating rabies and has provided the required funding, personnel and logistics to combat the disease.

“The Government considers rabies control and elimination as it’s top priority and has placed it under the State Disaster Management Committee (SDMC) for effective implementation and monitoring.

“This integrated and collaborative rabies control programme had resulted in a heightened community awareness on how to recognise and respond to the threat of rabies, improved case management through cross-sectoral rapid response and integrated bite case management and improved mass dog rabies vaccination, achieving more than 70 per cent coverage of the dog population,” he said.

He said this in his speech read by Local Government and Housing Minister Dato Sri Dr Sim Kui Hian at the World Rabies Day 2021 Sarawak event at Tegas Digital Hub, Icom Square in Kuching today.

Uggah reminded every pet owner to bear the responsibility to keep their pets healthy by getting their pets checked regularly, getting their core vaccinations, deworming as well as the rabies vaccination.

“If you have been bitten by a dog, do carry out the first aid measures like thorough washing of the bite wound with soap and water and immediately seek medical treatment including getting the human post-exposure rabies vaccination. This will prevent you from developing symptoms of rabies.

“Many people may not know much about rabies and what to do when someone is bitten by a dog or other potentially rabid animal.

“They may not know how to recognise the signs of rabies in a dog. They may not know what it is when a person is showing signs of rabies. In some communities, they believe rabies is caused by a curse or spell.

“Each and every one of you can help make this a reality, by vaccinating your pets and collaborating with the doctors, veterinarians, policy makers, educators, community workers, Sarawak Society for Prevention of Cruelty to Animals (SSPCA) and others in your community and to raise awareness on rabies prevention and control,” he added.

Touching on technical competencies, Uggah said the State’s Veterinary diagnostic lab is now able to perform rabies confirmatory test. Results will be known in three days unlike in the past where the State had to send the samples to the Veterinary Research Institute in Ipoh.

He also mentioned that the Plan of Action for Rabies Control and Elimination 2019 recommended the creation of an immune belt along the 1200 km Sarawak-Kalimantan border to curb movements of dogs and the deployment of 32 Immune Belt Enforcement Teams to cover the 978 villages, estates and government outposts within the immune belt.

“These teams will carry out surveillance and will be trained to vaccinate dogs in this area,” he said.

Uggah also said once the travel restrictions are no longer in place, the Department of Veterinary Services Sarawak will conduct more mass dog vaccination exercises and awareness programmes to achieve zero rabies in human in by 2022 and zero rabies in dog by 2025.

At present, rabies has claimed 33 lives in Sarawak since the outbreak was declared in July 2017. – DayakDaily