International animal welfare organisation FOUR PAWS has not only achieved its goal of vaccinating 50,000 dogs and cats against rabies in Myanmar but surpassed it. After two months of tireless efforts, the team has vaccinated 58,386 animals. FOUR PAWS is celebrating this partial victory against one of the deadliest diseases in the country. During the pilot project, the dedicated team on site vaccinated over 34,000 dogs and cats in 275 villages around the capital Naypyidaw as well as over another 23,000 animals in the ancient city of Bagan with a total number of villages of 240. FOUR PAWS has committed to continue the rabies prophylaxis programme from this first milestone onwards.
With a team of over 40 people, including local and international veterinarians and partner organisations, FOUR PAWS achieved this impressive goal in only two months. The team on site worked beyond the 50,000 mark to fully cover the Nyaung-U township in Bagan. “The first 50,000 vaccinations were a big challenge, but thanks to the great collaboration between the teams we were able to reach our goal so quickly. Now that the project is finished, we will evaluate the results and start preparations for the next year,” says Dr Marina Ivanova, a FOUR PAWS vet who participates in the project. “Our fight against rabies continues. We have committed to vaccinate 50,000 animals per year in the next five years. FOUR PAWS will continue to provide expertise and know-how to develop a sustainable and efficient rabies program in Myanmar,” adds FOUR PAWS veterinarian and head of the project Dr Amir Khalil.
The fight against rabies is a long-term one
Rabies remains a dangerous threat and the fight to eradicate it is a crucial one, therefore FOUR PAWS launched the ambitious project with the “Don’t wait vaccinate – Together we save lives” campaign. By vaccinating almost 60,000 animals, FOUR PAWS laid the foundations for a future without rabies in Myanmar that will be followed up in the future until the disease is gone. However, the goal to eradicate rabies by 2030 is by no means an easy mission – according to Myanmar’s Livestock Breeding and Veterinary Department (LBVD), there is an estimated number of four million dogs in the country. Thus, the animal welfare organisation considers it an equally important project goal to educate and raise awareness about rabies, as killing the affected animals is not a long term solution.
Solidarity against rabies
The Livestock Breeding and Veterinary Department, volunteers of Blue Cross of India as well as the local NGO “Mingalar Myanmar” supported FOUR PAWS’ mission. FOUR PAWS trained the local teams in terms of sustainable rabies prevention, proper handling of strays and safe dog catching techniques. Additionally, visits to the affected communities and the ongoing FOUR PAWS public awareness campaign have already created a positive impact among the locals as well as in the region and will continue to do so as the project continues.