The Global Alliance for Rabies Control (GARC) has been working for a decade towards the goal of ending deaths due to rabies. It was set up by scientists who knew that rabies could be prevented but were finding it impossible to get this knowledge translated into laws, strategies and sustained funding in countries where rabies was endemic.
Since those early days, GARC has brought all the major international stakeholders together; advocated for the issue among policy makers and donors; worked hand in hand with governments, academics and other non-governmental organisations to build in-country capacity for surveillance, diagnosis, vaccine delivery and community awareness; and created platforms to support and train people working to end rabies in their communities.
World Rabies Day, observed every year on September 28th, was the first such GARC platform, uniting the rabies community to speak together and raise awareness of the issues. Over the last 9 World Rabies Days, over 1,700 rabies awareness events have been shared on the GARC platform from people and organisations in over 100 countries. These events are just a snapshot of the tremendous amount of work done by dedicated people all year around, year after year.
Each World Rabies Day brings us even more examples of local initiatives from rabies endemic countries in Asia and Africa, which experience over 95% of the 59,000 annual deaths from canine-transmitted rabies (which constitutes over 99% of rabies cases).
A 2015 global rabies meeting resulted in agreement among countries for a strategic framework to eliminate the public health threat of canine-transmitted rabies by the year 2030.
For the 10th World Rabies Day this year, we launched regional awards to recognize contributions to rabies, and inspiring stories have poured in, from people who lost a child to rabies and have devoted their lives to preventing other deaths, to organisations that go into remote communities to help people and animals.
International agencies like the WHO, OIE and FAO get the issue onto the agenda of member countries. Organisations like GARC support, facilitate and advocate for change at the global, regional, national and even local levels.
A 2015 global rabies meeting resulted in agreement among countries for a strategic framework to eliminate the public health threat of canine-transmitted rabies by the year 2030. Agreeing a target date for elimination was a milestone in the history of a 4000-year-old disease.
Rabies deaths can be ended. We will continue to work with national governments to strengthen their efforts to reach this goal. We will continue to use World Rabies Day to increase public awareness and bring attention to rabies prevention efforts.
However, as World Rabies Day highlights each year, it is the people who work within their countries – in governments, schools, clinics, universities and communities – who will ultimately make it possible for the world to reach the 2030 goal and end the threat of rabies.
The Global Alliance for Rabies Control World Rabies Day Team
The Global Alliance for Rabies Control (GARC) works to unite stakeholders, build the evidence base, educate communities and build country capacity to end deaths from rabies by 2030. GARC coordinates World Rabies Day on September 28 each year.