Children are at high risk of dog bites and contracting rabies. Forty percent of reported rabies cases worldwide are children under the age of fifteen. In our project areas, the proportion of children dying is often even higher. Rabies most often persists in poor communities and rural regions of developing countries in Africa and Asia. If the risks are widely understood and appropriate dog bite treatment is well known – rabies is 100% preventable.
Our education sessions are aimed to empower children, their teachers and their families with the knowledge to protect themselves from bites, prevent rabies and save lives. We encourage members of the public to bring their dogs for vaccination and sterilisation, and raise awareness of our emergency rabies response teams. We are creating communities who know how to protect themselves from rabies and who act to support rabies control.
During the COVID-19 pandemic, our teams have continued to work tirelessly, finding new ways to protect vulnerable communities from this cruel disease. When schools were shut, our Education Officers in Malawi took to the streets, using methods approved by WHO, to deliver community workshops and reach community members through door-to-door visits. We also used this time to create a radio drama promoting our key messages, this reached an audience of 4.2 million – helping our rabies prevention messages to reach further than ever before! Whilst in Goa, our Education Officers continued to raise awareness through producing a video version of our core rabies prevention lesson, this was then used by teachers as part of their online teaching. The teams also continued to conduct COVID-safe training sessions for key workers including bus drivers, policemen and lifeguards.
Despite the continued challenges, during 2021 we educated 958,332 children and have now delivered lessons to over 5 million children globally.
Experienced educators deliver the 'Rabies prevention' lesson directly to children in their classes, and assemblies. We teach children from age five up to sixteen - focusing particularly on primary schools. Schools range from the small and hard to get to, with enrolments as low as ten children in Goa's rural regions, right up to huge urban centres of up to 10,000 children in some Blantyre schools.
The 'Rabies prevention' lesson teaches four key messages:
We use an array of teaching methods tailored for each respective country and campaign including drawing, role play, flashcards, video, props and demonstration to deliver the message of rabies prevention and ensure it is memorable. Each section of the session has plenary activities aimed to review what has been learnt and not only make sure all children understand the message, but also that the children take the message home to their parents, family and friends.
The teachers' pack include lesson plans, teachers notes, curricula links, power point presentations, worksheets, extension activities and FAQs. Our methods are simple, cost effective and replicable.
For every school we visit - we record who, when, where and what we did to teach children and communities via the WVS App. This allows for real-time project management and enables us to produce mapped records of our reach. We also complete research to understand the barriers and behaviours that perpetuate human life loss to rabies, and measure how our interventions work to address these. Our local team keep in touch with schools and communities to receive feedback and give ongoing support.
Alongside our work within schools, we also extend our educational outreach to the wider local community. In the lead up to a vaccination campaign, teams raise awareness by speaking with community groups and key members of the community. We encourage communities to recognise and report rabid dogs, care for and protect dogs with vaccination, and help bite victims get treatment through active and thought-provoking sessions.
Throughout 2021, our teams reached 132,446 community members.
Dogs Trust, WVS, Davies Veterinary Specialists, Covetrus, BSAVA, Commonwealth Veterinary Association, WSAVA, CDC, University of Edinburgh Technik Technology, Vipex, WTG, Pet Air, Mayhew International, BCF Technology, Centaur Services, AGM Telematics, AST, Daray Medical, Medimark Scientific, MSD Animal Health, Starleaf, University of Bristol, W&H, ABC India, A1 Animals Come First, Humane Animal Society, Animal Rescue Kerala, International Animal Rescue, Just be Friendly, IPAN, TOLFA, Indian Veterinary Association, AWBI, APCRI, VSPCA, Vets for Animals, iSAW, CARE, tiffinbox and IVSA.