On 22nd May Mission Rabies will commence a mass vaccination drive in Cambodia’s capital Phnom Penh. The aim is to vaccinate 100,000 dogs against rabies in just ten days, making this Cambodia’s largest canine rabies vaccination project to date.
Rabies kills approximately 59,000 people globally every year and Cambodia has one of the highest rabies death rates per capita of any country in the world. Mission Rabies will work closely with the local government and charity partners, along with over 100 international volunteers, to reach their vaccination target and protect two million people living in Phnom Penh from the deadly disease.
Infected dog bites are the main cause of rabies in people and studies have proven that mass canine vaccination programmes are the most effective way to control the disease. At our global projects, we aim to vaccinate 70% of the canine population, the coverage needed to eliminate the disease in dogs and prevent human deaths. A combination of door-to-door visits and static point vaccination clinics are used to achieve this.
Founder and CEO of Mission Rabies and WVS, Dr Luke Gamble, explains why large-scale canine vaccination is vital to protecting people from rabies in Cambodia:
“In Cambodia, the reality of rabies is a tragic one. Statistically, children die of canine transmitted rabies every week in Phnom Penh, and annually, approximately 600,000 people in the country are bitten by dogs. The lack of awareness about this deadly disease means that many bitten individuals do not receive the post-exposure treatment they need, leaving them with no chance for survival once symptoms appear. This has to stop. We know that vaccinating dogs is the key to eliminating rabies and that’s why we're undertaking our largest and most ambitious vaccination drive yet - to vaccinate 100,000 dogs in ten working days. We're grateful to have the support of MSD Animal Health, and all those who are backing this project. Together, we're working towards our shared goal of eliminating human rabies deaths by 2030. Let's make a difference and protect the lives of both people and dogs in Cambodia.”
Mission Rabies began work in Cambodia in 2019, running a pilot vaccination campaign and commencing an education programme in the capital city. Ever since, our 24-hour surveillance team has responded to reports of rabid dogs and ensured anyone bitten receives immediate post-exposure treatment. The rabies hotline allows members of the public to report rabid dog sightings and to seek support for any rabies emergencies.
Dr Amy Nicole Lewis, International Project Manager at WVS/Mission Rabies, is part of the team delivering the mass vaccination project:
“Rabies causes immense suffering for people and animals in Cambodia. This is by far the biggest rabies vaccination project run ever before in the country and it will protect many lives. Since our pilot project in 2019, we have been delivering vital rabies surveillance and education projects, and we are very excited to be able to expand our work to a province-wide vaccination campaign. By working with government partners and key local stakeholders, we not only ensure the success of the project, but also its sustainability.”
The vaccination drive will be delivered in partnership with the General Directorate of Animal Health and Production, Institut Pasteur du Cambodge, and two Cambodian animal welfare organisations: Animal Rescue Cambodia, and Phnom Penh Animal Welfare Society.
Owen Sharp, CEO of Dogs Trust and Chairman of WVS/Mission Rabies added:
“This is a truly inspirational project to be a part of and through our recent charity merger, we are in a strong united position to make a transformational difference to dog welfare as well as people across the world. I have no doubt that this will be a successful project from the expertise and dedication from Worldwide Veterinary Service and Mission Rabies along with the local Cambodian partners, and I’m excited to see how our work will expand even further in the coming years.”
To efficiently deliver canine vaccinations on a large scale, we use a bespoke data collection ‘rabies app’. Vaccination figures and information about each dog is entered into the app to help with rabies and dog population research, and to ensure the campaigns are effective and measurable.
Follow our social channels for project updates! Residents of Phnom Penh, can find out more about getting a free vaccination for their dogs here.