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Speech on the World Rabies Day

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Date: September 25th, 2008
Event: Promotion for World Rabies Day
Speaker: Dr Giampaolo Mezzabotta for Dr Jean-Marc Olivé World Health Organization Representative – Viet Nam
Rabies is preventable and can be eliminated! 

These are the two key messages I want you to remember from today’s activities.

Despite this fact, more than 100 people died from rabies last year in Viet Nam.
Worldwide, an estimated 55 000 people die needlessly from this disease annually.  That is an average of one death every 10 minutes.

Rabies has the highest case fatality rate of any communicable disease, that's mean that if it is left untreated rabies infection will invariably be fatal.

These deaths are preventable – and these figures are unacceptable.
But there is a commitment to change ...and action is underway.

Rabies will no longer be a neglected disease.

It is encouraging to note that Viet Nam is taking the lead in the ASEAN Plus 3 Countries' initiative that aims to eliminate rabies from the region by 2020.

The World Health Organization with stand side-by-side with Vietnam to help reach this goal.

The main source of infection for humans is from bites from rabid dogs.

Sadly, children are at greatest risk from this terrible disease, as they are more likely to be bitten by dogs and more likely to receive multiple bites.

Up to 50 percent of rabies deaths are children under 15.

The major source of rabies in humans can be eliminated through ensuring adequate animal vaccination and control, educating those at risk and ensuring those bitten have appropriate access to medical care.

WHO's key strategies for rabies control are:
  • Public education campaigns that explain how to prevent the disease and threat bites from animals
  • Ongoing education of health and veterinary professionals in rabies prevention and control
  • Controlling the disease at its source, through mass vaccination campaigns of dogs.

The theme for World Rabies Day is "Together we can make rabies history!". 

Keeping with that theme, it is important to recognize that the elimination of rabies can only be achieved through a joint effort from both the human and animal health sectors.

But, most importantly, it relies on cooperation from communities.

We are in this “together” – so let’s make rabies history – let prevent and eliminate this disease from Viet Nam and stop unnecessary deaths.

Thank you to the Ministry of Health for inviting me to address this important meeting. 

Following on from the success of last year’s inaugural World Rabies Day, WHO is pleased to support your activities in 2008. 

Thank you.