RIWA leads Ghana’s fight against rabies
RIWA Ghana, the non-governmental organization widely recognized as the leader in rabies awareness and education in the country is stepping up its efforts in this regard this year. Already it has resumed its campaign in the newly created Bono Region where, late last year it focused intense effort with a view to making that area a model in fighting the incidence and spread of this disease, carried by domesticated canine pets with potentially fatal outcomes.
RIWA Ghana’s efforts have seen many organisations, both government and private organize rabies education and free mass vaccinations across Ghana. Mission Rabies, an international NGO is supporting a district in the Ashanti Region. RIWAGH is a member of the the Ghana One Health team that is championing the development of the Ghana rabies control strategic plan.
The launch of World Rabies Day 2019, held by RIWA in Ghana in Odumase, Sunyani West District of the Bono Region under the theme, “Vaccinate to eliminate” was deemed a great success. This was due to the support and participation of World Animal Protection and the Sunyani West District Assembly and our other stakeholders namely USAID, VSD and Local Veterinary enterprises including Multivet.Gh Ltd.
RIWAG has already started doing follow-ups, this year, to develop a closer relation with the Sunyani West District assembly to ensure the execute the pledge of sustaining the mass annual vaccination within District.
“Education and public awareness on rabies and responsible pet ownership were our key objectives for (last) year and, without a doubt, we can say that we achieved that” asserts Russell Coombs, a Canadian who, over several decades as a resident in Ghana, has served the country in many different ways, and is currently RIWA’s organizing & general secretary. “Our media coverage and exposure was substantially increased both nationally and locally and the school children in the District gained awareness through the rabies march through Odumase and the flyers that each took home from school…22,000 in all.
“We have observed a drastic rabies reporting and support for mass vaccinations in all districts that benefited from the RIWAGH launch. Seeing the importance of awareness and education on rabies control and prevention, we have again decided to expand and go to the north and the Sunyani West District in the newly created Bono Region of Ghana.”
Since 2015, Rabies in West Africa, Ghana (RIWAGH) a voluntary organization that seeks to help in the control and elimination of rabies has been in the forefront of fighting rabies in Ghana. It led the commemoration of World Rabies Day in Ghana at Osu, Accra that year and in the same year hosted the 3rd International Conference on Rabies in West Africa in Accra under the theme, “Harmonizing stakeholders and tools for the prevention and control of rabies.” Over 100 participants from all over the world attended this conference. In September 2017, with support from World Animal Protection (WAP), RIWAGH launched a three-year pilot program of rabies control at Suhum, an endemic rabies area in the Eastern Region. In a period of two years, (2017 and 2018) over 6000 pets were vaccinated and widespread schools and community rabies awareness and educational activities were undertaken in the Suhum project area. These activities included educational posters, flyers, classroom education with full teaching aids on pen drives and classroom manuals from WAP and flash cards for primary students. In 2018, RIWAG expanded its program coverage in Ghana by launching that year’s World Rabies Day commemoration at Ehi in the Ketu District of the Volta Region where over 1000 pets were vaccinated.