Rabies remains a significant threat to human and canine populations worldwide, claiming the lives of approximately 59,000 people each year, many of them children. Shockingly, 99% of these cases result from dog bites, leading to the unfortunate euthanasia of millions of healthy dogs out of fear of transmission. In an effort to combat this deadly disease, a team of dedicated volunteers from Clinician’s Brief, in partnership with Mission Rabies and with the support of Merck Animal Health, recently embarked on their most ambitious Mission Rabies project to date: vaccinating 100,000 dogs in Phnom Penh, Cambodia.
Mission Rabies: Making a Difference
The impact of Mission Rabies’ endeavors has been remarkable. As stated on the organization’s website, their efforts have significantly reduced human deaths in key project sites. The recent initiative in Phnom Penh aimed to vaccinate 100,000 dogs within a span of just 10 days, an impressive undertaking by any measure. Although the team fell slightly short, they achieved a staggering 74,872 vaccinations, marking Mission Rabies’ most extensive single drive to date.
Brief Media: Driving Change with Key Partnerships
Brief Media has been actively involved in Mission Rabies’ efforts to combat this deadly disease for several years. The partnership first took flight in Blantyre, Malawi, in 2016 and 2017. Since then, with the generous support of Merck Animal Health, volunteers have embarked on vaccination drives in various locations worldwide. These efforts include Zomba, Malawi (2018), Goa, India (2018 and 2019), the area along the Bwindi Impenetrable Forest in Uganda (2019), and the Meru District in northeast Tanzania (2023), in addition to the recent drive in Phnom Penh. Throughout these campaigns, over 140,000 dogs have been vaccinated, and thousands of children have received crucial rabies education.
Making a Difference in Phnom Penh
Dr. Amy Mohl, Chief Medical Officer at Brief Media, was part of the volunteer team in Phnom Penh. She expressed her deep sense of purpose and the rewarding experience of being able to make a genuine impact on people’s lives. Dr. Mohl praised the combined efforts of fellow volunteers and local teams, emphasizing the significant strides made by Mission Rabies in their ongoing fight against the disease.
“The chance to help people and truly make a difference in the world is one I couldn’t pass up,” said Dr. Mohl. “With the combined strength of the other volunteers and local teams, we were able to help advance the incredible efforts of Mission Rabies.”
The Lifesaving Contribution of Merck Animal Health
Central to the success of Mission Rabies’ vaccination drives is the invaluable support provided by Merck Animal Health (known as MSD outside the US and Canada). The company supplies the Nobivac rabies vaccines, enabling the volunteers to carry out their lifesaving work. To date, Merck Animal Health and the Nobivac team have generously donated over 1 million vaccines. Their commitment plays a vital role in eradicating this deadly disease from both animals and humans worldwide.
Continued Collaboration for a Rabies-Free World
Dr. Christine Royal, Vice President at Merck Animal Health, stressed the importance of ongoing collaboration with volunteers, partners, and local communities in the mission to eliminate rabies globally.
“Eliminating rabies across the world is an attainable goal, but it takes ongoing collaboration with our volunteers, partners and local communities to eradicate this deadly disease from animals and humans,” said Dr. Royal. “Thanks to the Afya Project and our ongoing work with Mission Rabies, we are able to advocate for effective vaccination programs and gain awareness for continued rabies prevention and elimination efforts around the world.”
The efforts of the dedicated volunteers from Clinician’s Brief, in collaboration with Mission Rabies and with the support of Merck Animal Health, have taken us one step closer to achieving a world free from the threat of rabies. While challenges remain, their achievements in Phnom Penh and other locations stand as a testament to the power of collaboration and collective action.
Visit the Mission Rabies website to find out how you can get involved in this lifesaving work.