Rabies is endemic in both humans and animals in seven of the eight South Asian Association for Regional Cooperation (SAARC) Members States (MSs), contributing to about 45% of the global burden of human rabies. Over 95% of human rabies cases are associated with dog bites. Rabies control and subsequent elimination necessitates a multi-sectoral collaboration, using a One Health approach.
In June 2019, the OIE with its Tripartite partners (FAO and WHO) organised the SAARC Tripartite Rabies Workshop on “Enhancing Progress Towards Rabies Elimination ‘Zero by 30’ in the SAARC Region” in Nepal. The meeting recommended that the SAARC MSs enhance their rabies surveillance activities through strengthening rabies diagnostic capacities at national, sub-national and local levels. At the webinar on rabies for SAARC in May 2020, the need to enhance ground-level rabies surveillance by imparting training on rabies diagnosis was highlighted.
Therefore, the OIE Regional Representation for Asia and the Pacific (RRAP) in collaboration with the Karnataka Veterinary, Animal and Fisheries Sciences University – Commonwealth Veterinary Association – Rabies Diagnostic Laboratory (KVAFSU-CVA-RDL) organised a virtual training on rabies diagnosis for the SAARC MSs. The KVAFSU-CVA RDL was designated as the OIE Reference Laboratory for Rabies on 16 June 2020 and can now provide the required facilities and skills for training on rabies diagnosis.
Laboratory diagnosticians/technicians/veterinarians working on animal rabies diagnosis in the national/subnational government laboratories of the SAARC MSs attended the training.