From lab to field - Rabies control in Namibia as a One Health intervention

Rabies is a prime example for One Health, and the FAO-OIE-WHO Tripartite Collaboration considers rabies control as an entry point to strengthen and showcase the importance of multi-sectoral collaboration for the control of health risks at the human-animal ecosystems interface. In Namibia, a large but sparsely populated country in southern Africa, rabies is circulating both in domestic dogs as well as in wildlife, causing human cases and losses in livestock and game species. When Namibia implemented a National Dog Rabies Control Program in 2016, this initiative was supported through an OIE-coordinated project involving the OIE/WHO Reference Centre for Rabies at the Friedrich-Loeffler-Institute (FLI). In a cross-sectoral and interinstitutional approach, besides laboratory capacity building, improvement of rabies surveillance and KAP studies, a strong research component allowed to elucidate the ecological and spatiogenetic epidemiology of rabies in the country, the assessment of dog mass vaccination campaigns as well as novel cutting-edge approaches for vaccination of dogs and kudu antelopes with a third-generation oral rabies vaccine, which was studied in detail experimentally at the FLI before. In fact, oral rabies vaccination is promoted by WHO and OIE as important tool to end dog-mediated human rabies by 2030. Altogether, we demonstrate that long-lasting partnerships as opposed to short-lived projects can lead to both sustained improvements and successful research projects.


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