The World Rabies Day (WRD), established by the Global Alliance for Rabies Control (GARC) and recognized by the World Health Organization (WHO) every 28 September is an inspirational day to remember that preventing animal diseases does not only protect their health and well-being but also is one of the most effective steps to protect the health of humans and the environment. The WRD is an opportunity to promote the fight against this disease, raise awareness about its prevention and celebrate the achievements made. The COVID-19 pandemic has raised many doubts, misconceptions and fake news about diseases, their dissemination, and vaccination in general. Therefore, the theme of the 2021 WRD is: "RABIES: FACTS, NOT FEAR ", highlighting the importance of raising awareness on the disease, vaccinating the animal population and educating people on the danger of rabies and how to prevent it.
Why this theme?
The global COVID-19 pandemic has raised many doubts and misconceptions about diseases, their spread and about vaccination in general. Because of this, there has been some hesitancy about the roll-out of the COVID-19 vaccines in many countries and many people are afraid to get vaccinated. For rabies, this is nothing new, as fears, misconceptions and misinformation about the disease and its prevention dates back hundreds of years. For that reason, this year’s theme is focused on sharing facts about rabies, and not spreading fear about the disease by relying on misinformation and myths.
Facts: Facts are essential for raising disease awareness, preventing rabies cases, having the animal population vaccinated, and educating people about the dangers of rabies and how to prevent it. Without facts we would not have data for decision-makers to inform them of the serious nature of the disease. We would not be able to advocate for its elimination and the burden of the disease would remain unknown, resulting in tens of thousands of people and animals continuing to die from rabies each year. Let us use facts to raise awareness and educate others about rabies – a 99% fatal, yet 100% preventable disease.
Fear: The word “fear” has three meanings in this year’s theme. Firstly, it relates to the general fear caused by rabies, the fear people experience when encountering rabid animals, and the fear that people live with in communities plagued by rabies. The second meaning relates directly to the symptom of fear that people may experience when infected with rabies. Lastly, fear relates to the fear caused by ‘fake news’ or myths about rabies – making people afraid of vaccination, making people afraid to get their animals sterilized or vaccinated, and making people believe in ineffective treatments for the disease.
World Rabies Day is the first and only global day of action and awareness dedicated to rabies prevention. It is an opportunity to unite as a community thus helping individuals, civil society, and governments to connect and share their work.
September 28, 2021 will be the 15th World Rabies Day.
To celebrate this milestone, this year’s theme focuses on facts about rabies and dispelling any myths or misconceptions. In brief, the theme reminds us of key current global issues that also affect rabies elimination, namely:
Fake news and how this can negatively affect our rabies elimination efforts. Facts are the only way to beat fake news, so help to share accurate facts and ensure that decisions about rabies control in your country are based on the correct, and most up-to-date, information.
Vaccine hesitancy and the misconceptions about vaccination. By sharing facts about the benefits of vaccinating your animals against rabies, and by ensuring that exposed people receive post-exposure prophylaxis, we can dispel any myths about rabies vaccination to ensure that everyone is protected, and the disease eliminated. We can rid our communities and colleagues of any fears of vaccination by sharing accurate facts.
Participating in World Rabies Day is a great way of making and sharing progress towards the elimination of rabies deaths by 2030 is a responsibility not only for the animal health workers and health workers but for all to become part of the global World Rabies Day community today activities. It is urgent call that, you make sure your community is represented on World Rabies Day by educating and sharing the facts about rabies and dispelling the fear surrounding rabies.
How can one gets involve in this year’s World Rabies Day celebration? This year’s theme is designed so that you can participate in several different ways, making the World Rabies Day a day that everyone can take in. here are some ideas and suggestions for you to consider when planning your World Rabies Day:
Learn facts, not fear: Educate yourself and share your knowledge with others.
Use facts, not fear: We can all contribute to gathering evidence so that rabies elimination efforts can be based on scientific knowledge and facts.
Spread facts, not fear: Get involved by sharing accurate facts about rabies, while dispelling myths, doubt, and misconceptions.
World Rabies Day highlights the importance of education and awareness to prevent rabies. You can use this at many levels to share different messages, from the policy-level message to governments to commit to the 2030 deadline, to community-level messages about vaccinating dogs and treating bite wounds, and dog bite prevention education for school children.