Application of the GARC Data Logger—a custom-developed data collection device—to capture and monitor mass dog vaccination campaigns in Namibia
Domestic dogs are responsible for 99% of all cases of human rabies and thus, mass dog vaccination has been demonstrated to be the most effective approach towards the elimination of dog-mediated human rabies. Namibia demonstrated the feasibility of this approach by applying government-led strategic rabies vaccination campaigns to reduce both human and dog rabies incidences in the Northern Communal Areas of Namibia since 2016. The lessons learnt using paper-based form for data capturing and management of mass dog vaccination campaign during the pilot and roll out phase of the project (2016–2018) led to the implementation of a simple and accurate data collection tool in the second phase (2019–2022) of the rabies elimination program. In this paper, we describe the implementation of such custom-developed vaccination tracking device, i.e. the Global Alliance for Rabies Control (GARC) Data Logger (GDL), and the integration of the collected data into a website-based rabies surveillance system (Rabies Epidemiological Bulletin—REB) during 2019 and 2020 campaigns. A total of 10,037 dogs and 520 cats were vaccinated during the 2019 campaign and 13,219 dogs and 1,044 cats during the 2020 campaign. The vaccination data were recorded with the GDL and visualized via REB. Subsequent GIS-analysis using gridded population data revealed a suboptimal vaccination coverage in the great majority of grid cells (82%) with a vaccination coverage below 50%. Spatial regression analysis identified the number of schools, estimated human density, and adult dog population were associated with the vaccination performance. However, there was an inverse correlation to human densities. Nonetheless, the use of the GDL improved data capturing and monitoring capacity of the campaign, enabling the Namibian government to improve strategies for the vaccination of at-risk areas towards achieving adequate vaccination coverage which would effectively break the transmission of rabies.