Ilocos Norte eyes national declaration as ‘rabies-free’ province

LAOAG CITY — The Provincial Government of Ilocos Norte (PGIN) in its bid to a rabies-free community is now preparing for a series of evaluation for the national rabies-free declaration through the Department of Health (DOH) and the Department of Agriculture (DA).

The Provincial Veterinary Office (PVO) has recently met with the Provincial Rabies Control Council (PRCC) to solicit support in finalizing some reports to include the documentation for the rabies program in the local government units (LGUs).

According to Provincial Veterinarian Dr. Loida Valenzuela, the first leg of evaluation is set on July 22 for the regional evaluators while the national evaluation is on August.

“Ilocos Norte will be the first landlocked province in the Philippines to have the national rabies-free declaration, if ever we will pass the evaluation,” Valenzuela said.

The criteria set for the declaration include that the province has maintained a zero mortality both in human and animals particularly dogs in the past two years.

It is also important that the province must show that support to attain zero rabies in the community were established through legislation, execution, and vaccination to the different communities.

As of 2013, the PVET has a zero recorded case of rabies infection in human while rabies cases in the animals has been downed to zero since 2014.

Current situation of rabies cases in the province has proven that that Ilocos Norte has been successful in eradicating rabies for three years now with the help of its officials and the community.

“The biggest challenge in the province would be the sustainability because when a place is declared as rabies-free, we have to sustain the program and make sure that the province is negative from rabies infection. We will be evaluated annually to maintain our post,” said Valenzuela

As early as now the province through the PVET, PRCC and the Provincial Health Office (PHO) is gearing towards the intensified massive vaccination as one of the most effective campaign to prevent the spread of the infection.

To ensure that animals are properly monitored, the province has also established a Provincial Rabies Diagnostic Laboratory where head samples of animals are being tested for possible rabies proliferation.

Also, the PGIN is closely monitoring the border control in transporting animals in-and-out the province to make sure that animals from neighbouring provinces were properly vaccinated before shipping.

The integration of the curriculum in preschool level about rabies is also one of the key features of the anti-rabies campaign program of the provincial government.

Through the partnership of the PGIN and the Global Alliance for Rabies Control (GARC) with the funding from the UBS Optimus Foundation, the program Community Against Rabies Exposure (CARE) has been a successful fight against rabies for four years following its launching in April 27, 2012.

“Once the province is declared a rabies-free community by the national government, tourism industry here is expected to boost since tourists are most likely to visit free-rabies places for their safety,” said Valenzuela. PNA/