A person bitten or exposed to rabies should be treated by health professionals within 12 hours of exposure
Statistics from the Alliance for Rabies Control (ARC), Ghana, indicate that rabies cases in the country increased from 21,000 in 2008, to 25,000 in 2010.
Also, 25 people died from rabies between the years 2009 and 2011.
The Country Director of ARC, Dr. Bashiru Boi-Kikimoto, described the development as unacceptable, since the disease was preventable.
“Although rabies in humans is 100 per cent preventable through prompt appropriate medical care, more than 55,000 people mostly in Africa and Asia die from rabies every year, a rate of one person every ten minutes,” he remarked.
Briefing the Ghanaian Times on the upcoming 5th World Rabies Day celebration slated for September 28, Dr. Boi-Kikimoto said the theme “Stand united to end rabies in Ghana,” would help raise awareness about the impact of human and animal rabies, how easy it could be prevented and how to eliminate the main global sources.
Dr. Boi-Kikimoto noted that though the major impact of rabies occurred in low income regions, the incidence of the rabies should no longer be neglected.
He said that rabies in humans could be eliminated through adequate animal vaccination and control, educating those at risk and enhancing access to those bitten for appropriate medical care.
The Country Director said that rabies cases in the communities might be higher than the figures mentioned due to lack of accurate and reliable data.
He attributed this to the fact that more attention was often paid to tuberculosis, HIV/AIDS and malaria, and called on the public to report all dog bite cases to the nearest medical centre to ensure early treatment.
Dr. Boi-Kikimoto said rabies was on the increase because there was an increase in the number of stray dogs due to lack of responsible dog ownership, lack of public awareness on prevention of the disease in humans and animals, and lack of clear responsibilities of district and municipal assemblies in controlling rabies.
He called on policy makers to put in place measures to reverse the unfortunate situation.
Commenting on steps to take after a dog bite, Dr. Boi-Kikimoto said “If the bite is not serious, the individual should have the wound washed with soap and water as soon as possible and seek medical attention.
“A person bitten or exposed to rabies should be seen and treated by health professionals within 12 hours of exposure,” he said.
Dr. Boi Kikimoto called for close collaboration among stakeholders like the Ghana Health Service, Veterinary Services, the Ministries of Food and Agriculture, Local Government and Education to help achieve the dream of eradicating the disease.