The Ebonyi State Government has secured a total of 3,500 doses of anti-rabies vaccine for dogs and cats to prevent and eradicate rabies across communities in the state.
The state Commissioner for Agriculture and Natural Resources, Moses Nomie, stated this during the launch of a free anti-rabies vaccination campaign on Wednesday in Abakaliki.
Mr Nomie said the programme, in collaboration with the Federal Government through the Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Development, would get rid of rabies by the year 2030.
The theme for the two-week anti-rabies vaccination campaign is: “End Rabies in Ebonyi; Collaborate, Vaccinate”.
The commissioner explained that the state government was collaborating with the federal government to ensure that dogs in rural and urban areas of the state were captured during the exercise to prevent rabies.
The Director, Veterinary Services Department in the state Ministry of Agriculture, Ephraim Nwanga, said the programme was a welcome development. He expressed hope that it would achieve 70 per cent coverage.
“I believe the exercise will achieve 70 per cent coverage and once it is achieved, the society will live without rabies; and even when bitten, the virus will not get to the level of community transmission.
“We are going to continue the vaccination of dogs and cats till 2023,” Mr Nwanga said.
The director said the World Health Organisation (WHO) included rabies in the Integrated Disease Surveillance and Response (IDSR) list as a matter of public health importance.
He said the programme was being co-sponsored by WHO, World Organisation for Animal Health and the Nigerian government.
Meanwhile, the Permanent Secretary, Ministry of Agriculture, Rita Okoro, described rabies as one of the deadly viral diseases that affect human health, transmitted by dogs and cats.
According to her, each dose of the vaccine administered on a dog is expected to last between two and three years.
She urged the public to join in the fight against rabies by taking advantage of the programme to bring their pets for the vaccine.
“We are creating awareness on rabies disease, targeting dogs and cats both in rural and urban areas.”
The Vice President of Dog Breeders, Ebonyi Chapter, Victor Chidiebere, commended the federal and state governments for the free anti-rabies vaccine.
He said “it takes a lot to care for dogs. The vaccine will go a long way to give relief to dog and cat owners in the state.
“I am impressed with the programme and wish they will continue to assist breeders with more than one pet.”
A dog owner, Kenneth Nwaoba, appreciated the governments and the partners for the exercise and urged them to sustain it to eradicate rabies, noting that “this is because dog breeding is a lucrative venture”.