Rabies Awareness Month
Rabies Awareness Month is held in March of every year to raise awareness about rabies in the Philippines, where hundreds of lives are still claimed by the disease annually despite it being fully preventable.
The Philippines ranks 6th worldwide among countries which still have reported cases of rabies, with around 200 to 500 people dying from the illness every year and 30 to 60 percent of the victims being children under the age of 15. Most of these deaths are caused by the lack of prevention measures, such as dogs not being vaccinated against the disease, lack of treatment after an animal bite, or misconceptions such as the belief that pouring vinegar on an animal bite will kill the rabies virus.
In light of these statistics, the Rabies Awareness Month was instituted and has been held since 2005, two years before the passage of Republic Act 9480 (Rabies Act of 2007) authored by Sen. Pia Cayetano.
Through activities and programs initiated during Rabies Awareness Month and sustained throughout the whole year, the Department of Health (DOH) aims to make a rabies-free Philippines by 2020, following the lead of countries such as Japan which was declared rabies-free in 1954.
The Rabies Awareness Month is not unique to the Philippines, with a Rabies Awareness Month also instituted in New York in June 2008. Meanwhile, World Rabies Awareness Day is held every September 28.
Activities for Rabies Awareness Month, sponsored by both public and private sectors, follow the three-pronged approach espoused by RA 9480 to eliminate the disease: immunization, immediate treatment, and responsible pet ownership. Local government units conduct mass vaccinations for pets that can carry the virus, such as dogs and cats, as well as information campaigns and forums not just on rabies but also on responsible pet ownership.
Among the initiatives launched during Rabies Awareness Month was the Rabies Prevention and Organized Intervention (Rabies POI) by the Santungan ng Kababaihan at Kabataan sa Pampanga (SANGKAP). Apart from educating people about rabies by going from community to community, SANGKAP has put up a website about the disease.
- Rabies Awareness Month – Manila Bulletin Online. Accessed 22 February 2010.
- Rabies POI Site. Accessed 22 February 2010.
- Republic Act 9480 Full Text – LawPhil.net. Accessed on 22 February 2010.
- Proclamation – State of New York Official Website. Accessed 22 February 2010.
- City conducts massive dog vaccination – Alaminos City Official Website. Accessed 22 February 2010.
- Resolutions by Sen. Pia Cayetano, 13th Congress – Sen. Pia Cayetano Official Website. Accessed 22 February 2010.
- Around the World - March 2 2009. Manila Bulletin Online. Accesse 22 February 2010.
- World Rabies Day Official Website. Accessed 22 February 2010.