Political intervention sought in Bukidnon’s fight vs. rabies

MALAYBALAY CITY (MindaNews/5 July) – The provincial health officer here said political intervention is needed in the campaign against rabies, noting that Bukidnon is now ranked as among those with highest number of deaths due to animal bites all over the country.

Dr. Teresita Damasco told members of the Sangguniang Panlalawigan that provincial officials should put in more funds, be at the forefront of the anti-rabies campaign, and initiate sanctions against those who will not cooperate.

She revealed that last year, 13 people died of animal bites in Bukidnon, which made it the highest in the region, and probably the highest in the country.

This year, from January to June, the Provincial Health Office reported a total of eight persons who already died due to animal bites, mostly dog bites.

From 2007 to June 2012, the PHO recorded a total of 64 persons who died of animal bites.

But Damasco noted that the provincial government’s P750,000 annual budget for human and animal vaccines for rabies cases is very minimal considering the scale of the problem.

She said the local government units in the province must demonstrate political will by providing sufficient budget for the anti rabies campaign.

She recommended that the budget should be restored to P1 million, which was the amount in the previous appropriation.

The amount is divided into Bukidnon’s five anti-rabies centers, namely, Bukidnon Provincial Medical Center, Bukidnon Provincial Hospital in Maramag, the City Health Offices of Malaybalay and Valencia, and the Municipal Health Office of Manolo Fortich.

About P150,000 of the budget is apportioned to the Provincial Veterinary Office for animal anti-rabies vaccines.

But Damasco stressed that even if reverted to P1 million, it still won’t be enough, stressing the need for the cities and municipalities to also put in more funds.

Damasco said it also pays if the mayors themselves make public pronouncements to help the anti-rabies campaign. She said it might be more compelling if the public hear their local leaders, not just the health officials, campaign for animal vaccinations as prevention is always better than cure. (Walter I. Balane / MindaNews)