People bring their dogs to have vaccine during World Rabies Day Sarawak 2020 at MBKS Community Hall, Kuching. Photo: Mohd Alif Noni

KUCHING: Various activities were carried out in connection with the World Rabies Day 2020 celebration at Kuching South City Council (MBKS) Community Hall here today.

Among the highlights of the event were free rabies vaccinations, micro-chipping, and licensing for dogs.

Talks about rabies were also held by various departments and agencies, including an update on the state’s rabies status by the Department of Veterinary Services (DVS) Sarawak, and dog licensing requirements by the Ministry of Local Government and Housing.

The Sarawak Society for Prevention of Cruelty to Animals (SSPCA) also presented a talk on responsible pet ownership and avoiding dog bites.

At the event, prizes were presented to the winners of the rabies-themed video-making competition.

Awang Suhani Sham Awang Adi emerged as champion, bagging a cash prize of RM5,000. Meanwhile, the second prize of RM3,000 went to Ho Hui Ting whereas Wee Yin San came in third and received RM2,000.

The programme was launched by Ministry of Local Government and Housing permanent secretary Datuk Antonio Kahti Galis, who represented Deputy Chief Minister cum Sarawak Disaster Management Committee (SDMC) chairman Datuk Amar Douglas Uggah Embas.

DVS Sarawak director Dr Adrian Susin Ambud in his speech said the event certainly had a good turnout.

“The theme for this year’s World Rabies Day 2020 is ‘End Rabies: Collaborate, Vaccinate’.

“The theme reminds us of key current issues in rabies elimination, namely the goal of zero human dog-mediated rabies deaths by 2030 worldwide, the importance of dog vaccination and post-exposure prophylaxis, and the need for a united effort towards achieving elimination of rabies,” he said.

He emphasised that collaboration was required at the national, local, and agency levels to eliminate rabies — especially keeping in mind that it is a disease that knows no borders.

He said World Rabies Day, which falls on Sept 28 annually, aims to increase community awareness of the disease and its prevention.

“World Rabies Day also raises the profile of national and local control programmes and acts as a springboard for year-round capacity building and awareness,” said Dr Adrian.

Since the first outbreak of rabies in Sarawak from July 2017 to date, DVS Sarawak has provided free anti-rabies vaccinations to a total of 186,798 dogs as a continuous effort to eradicate rabies in Sarawak. Dogs must be vaccinated against rabies annually.

Rabies is lethal yet preventable by vaccination in animals and people. Dog-to-human transmissions account for 99 percent of human rabies cases globally.

All pet owners must take precautions to keep their pets away from stray animals with unknown vaccination status.

In accordance with the Anti-Rabies Vaccination Order, all dogs in Sarawak must be vaccinated with anti-rabies vaccine. Dog owners are also required to keep their dogs under effective control as opposed to roaming freely on the streets.