The Enugu State government has flagged-off the 2018 free anti-rabies vaccination programme, urging owners of dogs and cats to vaccinate their pets against rabies as it would protect them from contracting the disease.
Declaring open the event held at the Veterinary Hospital, Uwani, Enugu, on June 14, the state’s commissioner for agriculture and natural resources, Hon. Emeka Ede, who was represented by the programme manager of the Agricultural Development Programme, Dr. Mathias Onu, described rabies as “a fatal zoonotic disease that affects both man and animal, and which has no treatment but can be prevented through vaccination”.
He disclosed that between 2016 to date, Enugu State recorded seven fatal cases of rabies in humans, adding that “this disease can be effectively prevented from affecting man through the vaccination of animals especially dogs and cats”.
The commissioner further said: “it is in realization of this danger that the Enugu State government with support from the federal ministry of agriculture and the Nigeria Veterinary Medical Association, Enugu branch, is embarking on this state wide free anti-rabies vaccination.”
He thanked Gov. Ifeanyi Ugwuanyi, “Who on realizing the high cost of rabies vaccine and its non availability in the rural areas of the state, approved this programme.” He also thanked the Federal Department of Veterinary and Pest Control Services, Abuja, and the Enugu branch of the Nigerian Veterinary Medical Association for their support.
In an opening remark, the director of Veterinary Services Department, Dr. Ike Agbo, described the free anti-rabies vaccination programme as an annual event, noting that the programme which commenced on June 14 runs till June 25. The director urged pet owners to use the opportunity to vaccinate their pets.
In a goodwill message, chairman of Enugu State chapter of the Nigerian Veterinary Medical Association, Dr. Kevin Ugwuamarima, stressed that the issue of rabies in human beings is a huge health risk. Lamenting the shortage of veterinary doctors in the state veterinary hospitals, he appealed to the governor to employ additional veterinary doctors and also commended him for the good works his administration had done.
The zonal officer, department of veterinary and pest control services, federal ministry of agriculture, Dr. Mathias Onu, thanked the federal and state government for their support and for providing the vaccines. He urged the local government chairmen to assist the vaccinators so they could reach the hinterlands and administer the vaccines to dogs and cats. He also appealed to pet owners to bring out their dogs and cats for the vaccines.
About 1,500 doze of vaccines were made available for the programme. Highlight of the occasion was the administration of the anti-rabies vaccines on dogs.