History of the World Rabies Day, 08 September 2007

"Over 393,000 people in 74 countries participated.
Over 54 million people across the world got educated." — ARC

Activities supported and organized by WHO and its Collaborating Centres


Next World Rabies Day:
28 September 2009

The first World Rabies Day (WRD) was organized by the two founding partners Alliance for Rabies Control (ARC) and Centre for Disease Control and Prevention, Atlanta (CDC), on 8 September 2007 with the cosponsorship of the World Health Organization (WHO), the World Organisation for Animal Health (OIE) and the Pan American Health Organization (PAHO/AMRO). Activities organized by WHO Headquarters (HQ), Regional Offices and its many rabies Collaborating Centres (CCs) were contributing to the overall aim of the WRD: raising awareness about the impact of human and animal rabies, its easy prevention, and how to control and to eliminate the disease in animals and humans.

WHO activities

During the 25th International Congress for Pediatrics in Athens, 25-30 August 2007, Dr Pronczuk, from the Department of Public Health and Environment (PHE), WHO/HQ, announced the first WRD and WHO’s sponsorship. Additionally, a special announcement was published in the WHO/UNEP children's environmental health newsletter, HECANET, that reaches over 2000 subscribers. This announcement was also posted on the PHE department's website.

Biking for rabies in Bangkok, Thailand, during the World Rabies Day 2007
Children attending activities during the World Rabies Day 2007 event in Bangkok, Thailand

The major WRD event in Thailand took place in Bangkok and was cosponsored by all the sectors involved: The Thai Ministry of Health, the Thai Red Cross, the Department of Livestock Development, Chulalongkhorn University and the municipalities (in this case Bangkok Metropolis). WHO was represented by the coordinator of Zoonoses and Veterinary Public Health at WHO/HQ, Dr Meslin. WRD activities even included biking for rabies around Lumpini park, involving teachers, school children, professors, research workers and students. All of this was broadcasted on TV and the organizers provided interviews to five leading Thai newspapers as well as to radio stations and various magazines.

In the WHO South-East Asia Region SEARO, various countries held activities during the WRD. For more detailed information on activities in the South-East Asian Region, the Regional Office is compiling a document with a summary of WRD happenings, which will be provided here once available.

In Bhutan, WHO funded the Project on Prevention and Control of Rabies. In conjunction with this project radio and television interviews were given, talks were held in schools, and 650 dogs were vaccinated in selected VHs and LECs. Further educational materials (i.e. leaflets in Dzongkha and English) were distributed, as well as booklets on health and vaccination for pet owners.

Students of Motithang Middle Secondary school attending a talk about rabies, World Rabies Day 2007, Bhutan.
Rabies vaccinated pet dog receiving a collar by the director of the Department of livestock in Bhutan, World Rabies Day 2007

During a WRD event organized in India by the WHO Collaborating Centre for Rabies Epidemiology, Dr Habayeb, WHO Representative to India, released the NICD-WHO joint publication, "Rabies- General Aspects and Laboratory Diagnosis Techniques", a document that describes laboratory diagnoses of rabies following biosafety guidelines and provides updated information on animal bite management.

In the WHO Region of the Americas PAHO/AMRO staff participated in many national events and in the CDC, Atlanta event together with the global team for the WRD. Countries that were covered by this initiative were Argentina, Bolivia, Brazil, Chile, Colombia, Costa Rica, Dominican Republic, Ecuador, El Salvador, Guatemala, Haiti, Honduras, Mexico, Nicaragua, Paraguay, Peru and Venezuela.

PAHO/AMRO was especially involved in press conferences and media campaigns in:

  • Brazil: National media campaign including web pages organized by PAHO/AMRO, WSPA, Ministry of Agriculture, Ministry of Health, and Agriculture and Health State Secretaries, and Rabies Surveillance Forum organized by the Secretary of the State of Health and PAHO/AMRO.
  • Chile: Press conference with PAHO/AMRO representative and Undersecretary of Public Health
  • Costa Rica: Media campaign organized by WSPA and PAHO/AMRO for distribution of posters and booklets to school children
  • Dominican Republic: Meetings between the National Secretary of Health, PAHO/AMRO, PADELA, SODOPREC, clinics, academic universities, and veterinary medicine schools to discuss rabies in the Dominican Republic, and
  • Haiti: WRD press conference between the Minister of Public Health, Minister of Agriculture, and PAHO/AMRO Representative in Haiti

The WHO African Regional Office AFRO and the WHO Country office in Abuja, Nigeria, sponsored an event organized by both the Ministries of Health and Agriculture to create public awareness on World rabies Day. WHO also supported briefings of the Media to highlight the effects of rabies and what people should do to avoid it and if contacted where to receive help.

Activities carried out by WHO collaborating centres

The WHO/CC for reference and research on rabies in Tehran, Pasteur Institute Iran (IPI), was involved directly in all World Rabies Day (WRD) related activities on 8 September 2007. A symposium on WRD was held in Moddares Hall of the IPI, additionally to a lunch banquet (for 500 participants) was held in IPI (Moddares) on WRD, whereby different representatives from WR in Iran, Iran Veterinary Council, Tehran University, Wildlife Protection Agency, Centre for Disease Control of Iran, Education & Development organization, and others gave oral presentations on rabies and its importance in Iran. This event was covered in the news of the regional TV channels. Distribution of mugs, bags, pens with WRD logo to all participants of the WRD in IPI.

The WHO Collaborating Centre for Rabies Epidemiology in India, the National Institute of Communicable Diseases (NICD), organized a technical seminar on animal bite management. This was well attended by several Municipal Corporations and general public. In conjunction with this event, Dr Madhusudana, who is the head of the WHO/CC, dedicated a 30 minutes television programme on the importance of WRD and rabies in general and organized a national workshop on rabies diagnostics on 27-29 September as part of the WRD activity.

Furthermore, a one hour walk for rabies was organized in Bangalore along with people from KIMS, Bangalore. Also, an article on rabies was released in "The Times of India".

A van decorated for the WRD during a rabies rally in India and a WRD publication in “The Times of India”

In the WHO European Region EURO several WHO/CCs were involved in promoting WRD through many actions.

The WHO collaborating centre for the characterization of rabies and rabies related viruses, Veterinary Laboratory Agencies (VLA), UK, published an article in Veterinary records in the September edition (Fooks, A.R. (2007). Rabies – the need for a 'one medicine' Approach. Veterinary Record 161:289-290) and organized several talks of A. R. Fooks on rabies at the BSAVA Congress, Birmingham, UK ([invited speaker] [April 2007]. Title: "Controlling Rabies - call for an integrated approach") and at Health Protection 2007, University of Warwick UK.

The WHO Collaboration Centre for Rabies Surveillance and Research, Friedrich-Loeffler-Institute (FLI), Wusterhausen, Germany, published a WRD article in the miscellaneous section of the WHO Rabies Bulletin Europe (04/2006), and delivered scientific background information for the radio programme "Leornardo", a science radio show in Germany (WDR, 07.09.2007, 4pm-5pm). Further, a joint press release to the WRD was issued by the WHO/CC VLA and the FLI.

The WHO Collaboration Centre for reference and research on rabies, Institut Pasteur, France, worked on a press release and published articles in the newspaper for physicians "Le quotidien du Médecin" and in the general newspaper "Le Point". Further, an interview was given by the head of the WHO/CC, H. Bourhy, on Radio France International, a French speaking radio, which has a large audience overseas.