Workshop: Assessment of Rabies Control Program in Bhutan using Stepwise Approach Towards Rabies Elimination (SARE tool) and Developing Strategic Plan of Action

A three day consultative workshop is underway in Paro from today, 27th September, 2017. This is one of the many activities undertaken to observe World Rabies Day. It is attended by technical experts on rabies from Department of Livestock, Department of Public Health, Bhutan Agriculture and Food Regulatory Authority, Nature Conservation Division of Department of Forest and Park Services, Royal Centre for Disease Control and National Centre for Animal Health (NCAH). The workshop is organized by Disease Control and Prevention Unit of NCAH with the following objectives:
- To assess and evaluate the implementation of national rabies prevention and control
programme in the country;
- To develop strategies for elimination of dog mediated human rabies death by 2020

Rabies is a cross-border problem in Bhutan. An annual average of 17 outbreaks has been occurring in animals, mostly in southern parts of the country. In the recent past, outbreaks has been recorded in interior rabies free area indicating re-emergence of rabies. The most recent outbreaks occurred in Orong geog in Samdrup Jongkhar (2015-16), six geogs (Merak, Sakteng, Radi, Shongphu, Bidung and Samkhar) of upper Trashigang Dzongkhags (2016) and Ngangla geog (Panbang area) under Zhemgang Dzongkhag (Sep 2017). Such outbreaks result in huge economic cost to the farmers as well as to the government in terms of death of farm animals, post exposure treatment cost in human and containment cost. Nevertheless, Bhutan has been able to achieve substantial reduction of human rabies death over the years with only 2 death reported between 2012 and 2017 through implementation of various strategies both by Ministry of Health and Department of Livestock. Bhutan aim to eliminate dog mediated human rabies death by 2020. It is therefore, important to evaluate and assess our national rabies prevention and control program using Stepwise Approach towards Rabies Elimination (SARE) tool.

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