Reaching Out from Davis to Africa for Rabies Awareness
The Health for Animals and Livelihood Improvement (HALI) Project is proud to partner with the Friends of Ruaha Society, and the Wildlife Conservation Society Ruaha Landscape Program for World Rabies Day 2008.
The partnership combines HALI’s veterinary medicine and health expertise with the landscape organization's conservation efforts and the society's education and outreach experience, in order to deliver a rabies education and awareness program to villages surrounding Ruaha National Park in Tanzania on September 28.
The Friends of Ruaha Society has been active in the Ruaha region since 1984. The group is focusing on environmental education to increase awareness and appreciation of the environment, ensure that benefits from wildlife reach local communities, and in general, to search for new balances between people, animals, and the environment. Since 2003, the Wildlife Conservation Society's Ruaha Landscape Program has been using conservation science and an on-the-ground approach to help local people, protected area managers and the Government of Tanzania protect and benefit from the unparalleled wildlife of the Ruaha ecosystem.
The The Health for Animals and Livelihood Improvement Project is a US-Tanzania research and capacity-building program to assess the effects of zoonotic disease and water management on animal health, biodiversity, and livelihoods in the Ruaha ecosystem, Tanzania. The project is led by Drs. Jonna Mazet and Deana Clifford from the UC Davis Wildlife Health Center at the School of Veterinary Medicine.The project is sponsored by the Global Livestock Collaborative Research and Support Program and funded by the US Agency for International Development. Tanzanian partners are integral to the success of the program, including several universities and conservation groups.
Now entering its third year, HALI is excited about moving from research to intervention activities. Program leaders prepared two educational events for its World Rabies Day program. HALI Field Coordinator Dr. Harrison Sadiki will be featured on a Kiswahili Ebony FM radio program from 2 p.m. to 4:00 p.m. September 21. The program will provide an overview of rabies in the rural Tanzanian context, with special emphasis on human, animal, and wildlife protection from the disease. A podcast of the program, featuring an interview with Dr. Sadiki for our English audience, will be posted on the HALI Project blog, http://haliproject.wordpress.com, following the show.
On World Rabies Day, the health, friends society and landscape program partners will host a public education event in Makufu village, Tanzania. We will show an educational video on rabies acquired from the Iringa District Veterinary Office and distribute brochures with basic facts about rabies and rabies prevention. HALI team member Howard Kombe will give a brief presentation about the rabies virus, focusing on how to protect individuals, families and the community from infection. The Friends of Ruaha Society is developing an evaluation tool to measure the effectiveness of the program in delivering the intended educational and conservation messages, with the hope that feedback will encourage more district-level support for and participation in vaccination programs.
In early September, the HALI team, along with Magreth Fadhili, program manager at FORS, traveled to Makifu, Tungamalenga, and Mahuninga villages to discuss the World Rabies Day program with village leaders, school headmasters, and district livestock officers. The community was in general very enthusiastic about the program, offering advice and feedback on program deliverables and structure.
The villages lie near Ruaha National Park, an important habitat and conservation area for many keystone species, including African wild dogs. As recently as early August, a pack of wild dogs was seen drinking from the Tungamalenga River, just outside of village limits. The proximity of these animals to domestic dogs drastically increases the risks of rabies transmission.
Protecting wildlife and domestic animals from rabies is critical to promoting healthy livelihoods in the Ruaha ecosystem, where humans, domestic animals, and wildlife share dwindling water resources and forage.
About World Rabies Day
The mission of World Rabies Day is to raise awareness about the impact of human and animal rabies, how easy it is to prevent it, and how to eliminate the main global sources. Even though the major impact of rabies occurs in regions of the world where many needs are present, rabies should no longer be neglected. The tools and technology for human rabies prevention and dog rabies elimination are available.
World Rabies Day is also supported by the Student American Veterinary Medical Association, which has adopted World Rabies Day as an event in the association's One-Health Challenge initiative, which aims to educate the public about veterinary medicine's role in the public health realm.
At UC Davis School of Veterinary Medicine, the One-Health Challenge/World Rabies Day awareness programs will be celebrated at the "Dog 'N' Jog" and Run for Rabies on the UC Davis Campus Sunday, September 28. Veterinary students will also hold a "Puppy Palooza: Animal Health & Craft Fair" at the event.
David Wolking, Global Livestock Collaborative Research Support Program, UC Davis -- HALI blog
Deana Clifford, DVM, UC Davis Wildlife Health Center--HALI