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Government intensifies fight against rabies

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BY MATILDA CHIMWAZA:

The government, through the Department of Animal Health and Livestock Development, has intensified the fight against rabies by launching a campaign dubbed ‘Rabies: Spread the Message, Save a Life’ at Nanjawira in Phalombe District.

The campaign, which started on October 5, is a national drive which will run for a month and aims at vaccinating 80 percent of livestock in the country.

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Principal Secretary in the Ministry of Agriculture, Irrigation and Water Development, Grey Nyandule Phiri, said they are targeting areas hard hit by rabies.

“We have launched the campaign here in Phalombe because, for the past year, there have been about 545 reported cases of dog bites which led to four deaths. And assuming that four people are dying in every district due to rabies, that is an alarming number,” Phiri said.

“If we are not careful, we can lose a lot of lives, especially of children— who are affected the most. Losing young ones to rabies’ attack is something painful. We do not want to lose anyone to rabies and that is why this campaign is very important,” he said.

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Phiri said people should adopt by-laws set by district councils which stipulate, among other provisions, that a household should have not more than two dogs.

“The issue of policy and capacity-building is our responsibility as central government. We will continue, therefore, to engage the councils to make sure they do the needful. We would want all the by-laws they may have developed in their district councils with our guidance to be enforced,” he said.

One of the traditional leaders in Phalombe, Stelia Munyama, said rabies pose a risk to lives in the district.

“There are a lot of dogs that just move about. As a result, when one dog has rabies, they pass on to other dogs and people. In the past, the government would shoot wandering dogs and the problem was maintained. It’s high time it reintroduced the programme,” Munyama said.

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