PMC begins working toward Rabies elimination
In Maharashtra, Rabies elimination will start in the two tier 1 cities of Pune and Mumbai followed by implementation in other cities
In keeping with the National Action Plan for Elimination of Dog Mediated Rabies from India by 2030, the Pune Municipal Corporation (PMC) has started working towards making the city Rabies-free. As such, Pune will be the first city in Maharashtra to conduct the Rabies elimination programme followed by Mumbai and other cities.
Rabies is an almost 100% fatal disease and is responsible for significant number of deaths in the human and animal population in India due to which the ministry of health and family welfare (MoHFW) has directed all states to give first priority to densely populated tier 1 and tier 2 cities with regard to rabies elimination activities and achieve Rabies-free status for these cities at the earliest.
In Maharashtra, Rabies elimination will start in the two tier 1 cities of Pune and Mumbai followed by implementation in other cities. In Maharashtra, a not-for-profit PATH will provide technical support for the programme. On Thursday, a meeting was held between PMC health officials and representatives of PATH to discuss the challenges and line of action.
Dr Bhagwan Pawar, health officer, PMC, informed that the civic body wants Pune to achieve the tag of Rabies-free city at the earliest and operations have already begun in this direction. Currently, the corporation is gathering data on Rabies cases, deaths, and stray dogs to prepare an action plan. “The priority is also to have adequate provision for anti-Rabies vaccine (ARV) and anti-Rabies serum (ARS) along with trained manpower for attending to cases of dog bites. The Information Education and Communication (IEC) programme will be conducted across the city for citizens to participate,” Dr Pawar said. It will take more than two weeks for the data to be compiled, based on which the strategy and action plan will be decided. The Rabies elimination programme will begin immediately afterward, he added.
According to the PMC, the stray dog census began three months ago and will be completed in the first week of April. This will help officials identify the actual population of strays in the PMC jurisdiction which in turn will determine how many teams will be tasked with conducting the sterilisation and immunisation of stray canines in that area.
Dr Satish Tajne, state head, PATH, said that they are collecting data for the entire state and have similarly asked the PMC to collect data for Pune city. “All technical support for this programme will be provided by us to the officials but first, we need to identify the gaps in the existing system and find solutions to overcome these gaps to achieve the programme targets. Soon, we will have a meeting with the state director of health services for further discussion,” Dr Tajne said.
Dr Sarika Funde, veterinary superintendent, PMC, said that the challenges have increased after the merger of 34 villages with the PMC. Also, puppies under six months in age cannot be sterilised. “We have started immunisation and sterilisation even on weekends to make Pune Rabies-free. The stray dogs suspected to have Rabies are kept under observation and tested. Dogs testing positive for Rabies are put down. But the immunisation is conducted in large numbers so that Rabies-infected dogs do not spread the infection among other animals,” Dr Funde said.
“We will take help from feeders, animal lovers and citizens for Pune to achieve the Rabies-free tag at the earliest,” she said.