Rising rabies deaths: South Cotabato wants more bite centers

DOG CRY. A dog grimaces in pain as veterinarians administer an anti-rabies shot during a free animal clinic in Iligan City Friday (23 September 2016). In South Cotabato, 16 people have died from rabies since January 2017. MindaNews file photo by Bobby Timonera

GENERAL SANTOS CITY (MindaNews/23 August) — Health authorities in South Cotabato are pushing for the establishment before yearend of six more Department of Health (DOH)-accredited Animal Bite Centers (ABC) as it moves to address the rising cases of rabies deaths in the area.

John Codilla, rabies program coordinator of the South Cotabato Integrated Provincial Health Office (IPHO), said Wednesday they are currently working with six municipal governments in the province for the opening of their own bite centers.

He said the new facilities would be established in the municipalities of Sto. Nino, Lake Sebu, Tboli, Tupi, Banga and Tampakan.

Codilla said they are assisting in the processing of requirements to facilitate the accreditation of the rural health unit-based ABCs with the DOH.

“This is part of our ongoing efforts to further strengthen our rabies prevention and control program,” he said.

The official said the province has four existing DOH-accredited ABCs.

These are located at the South Cotabato Provincial Hospital and Dr. Arturo Pingoy Hospital in Koronadal City, Rural Health Unit of Tantangan town and the Upper Valley Community Hospital in Surallah town.

Codilla said the DOH will provide 60 percent of the anti-rabies vaccine requirements of the additional bite centers while the host local governments will shoulder the remaining 40 percent.

The number of vaccines that would be provided by the DOH to the ABCs will be based on the recorded number of animal bites in their areas.

As of the second week of August, the IPHO’s epidemiology and surveillance unit already recorded 16 confirmed deaths due to rabies infection.

The municipalities of Lake Sebu and T’boli posted the most number of cases with four each, followed by Polomolok with three, Koronadal City with two, and Banga, Sto, Nino and Norala with one each.

The PESU report said the victims were aged between five to 70 years-old and majority of them were males.

At least 12 of the cases or 75 percent involved rabid dogs that did not undergo rabies vaccination.

Owing to this. Dr. Flora Bigot, acting head of the Provincial Veterinary Office, said they have stepped up their anti-rabies vaccination drives within the province’s 10 towns and lone city.

In the last six months, she said they already vaccinated around 60 percent of the estimated 60,000 dog population in the province.

Vaccination activities are ongoing in Polomolom town and the next stops would be the Tantangan, Tampakan and Tupi towns, she added. (MindaNews)