If you visited the state of Goa in India just six short years ago you would not have been able to escape the shadow of rabies.
This fatal and cruel disease hung like an ominous cloud over the state, and throughout India, where a staggering 35% of global human rabies deaths occur.
But now it is a very different story.
Now Goa celebrates three years with no deaths from rabies. Three years with no families mourning the loss of a loved one to the fatal certainty of rabies.
Back in 2014 Mission Rabies, together with the Government of Goa set the challenge of making Goa a rabies free state. Bordered by sea to the East and mountains to the West, the movement of dogs into and out of the state was limited, making it the perfect location for a state-wide vaccination campaign.
Ending human deaths from rabies in Goa could only be achieved through a coordinated effort to control the disease. This meant a year-round project, with a targeted canine vaccination campaign, education programme and regular surveillance of dogs to stop the spread of rabies for good. Mission Rabies worked alongside communities, from building local connections to continually monitoring rabies cases.
Dogs and people now have a safer future in Goa thanks to this approach.
The practices applied in Goa can now be adapted and developed to help other states and countries become rabies free.
To defeat rabies completely we need to go to where it is at its worst.
This is why, in 2015, our attention turned to Malawi. Malawi had the highest death rate from rabies across all of Africa.
A hospital in Blantyre, Malawi's second largest city, had recently reported the highest number of child rabies deaths anywhere in Africa. Thanks to our efforts, it's now amongst the lowest.
You can help end other needless deaths around the world.
Working with local charity partners we run mass vaccination drives every year in Blantyre and the surrounding areas, ensuring 70% of dogs receive the vaccination. Our education team teaches children about rabies and how to avoid being bitten, and free rabies vaccinations are available year-round.
Even a global pandemic did not stop our teams in the fight against rabies. With government permission vaccination centres opened in July, vaccinating over 79,557 in the first eight weeks. Our teams have had to adapt but the fight against rabies cannot be put on hold.
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