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Advances in Preventive Medicine
Volume 2011, Article ID 383870, 5 pages
http://dx.doi.org/10.4061/2011/383870
Review Article

Human Rabies in the WHO Southeast Asia Region: Forward Steps for Elimination

Disease Surveillance and Epidemiology, WHO Regional Office for South East Asia, New Delhi 110002, India

Received 4 April 2011; Revised 15 July 2011; Accepted 15 July 2011

Academic Editor: Shampur Narayan Madhusudana

Copyright © 2011 Gyanendra Gongal and Alice E. Wright. This is an open access article distributed under the Creative Commons Attribution License, which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original work is properly cited.

Abstract

There are eleven Member States in the WHO southeast Asia region (Bangladesh, Bhutan, Democratic People’s Republic of Korea, India, Indonesia, Maldives, Myanmar, Nepal, Sri Lanka, Thailand, Timor-Leste) of which eight are endemic for rabies. More than 1.4 billion people in the Region are at risk of rabies infection, and approximately 45% of worldwide rabies deaths occur in Asia. Dog bites account for 96% of human rabies cases. Progress in preventing human rabies through control of the disease in dogs has been slow due to various factors. Innovative control tools and techniques have been developed and standardized in recent years. The introduction of cost-effective intradermal rabies vaccination regimens in Asian countries has increased the availability and affordability of postexposure prophylaxis. Elimination of rabies is not possible without regional and intersectoral cooperation. Considering the importance of consolidating achievements in rabies control in Member countries, the WHO Regional Office for southeast Asia has developed a regional strategy for elimination of human rabies transmitted by dogs in the Region. They have committed to provide technical leadership, to advocate national health authorities to develop major stakeholder consensus for a comprehensive rabies elimination programme, and to implement national strategies for elimination of human rabies.