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KARACHI: The pilot project involving anti-rabies vaccination and birth control in stray dogs, initiated in four councils of Ibrahim Haideri, will be extended to the entire city under the Rabies Free Karachi programme launched by the Karachi Metropolitan Corporation with the assistance of a private hospital and World Organisation for Animal Health as 100 to 150 incidents of dog biting are reported daily across the city, it emerged on Tuesday.

Sources in the municipal utility told Dawn that a team of experts headed by Dr Nasim Salahuddin, had started the project in January this year and as many as 2,145 stray dogs had so far been vaccinated.

They said that Mayor Wasim Akhtar had last year signed a memorandum of understanding with the Indus Hospital that started vaccination and birth control in stray dogs.

The sources said that the mayor presided over a meeting to review the up to date progress of the RFK programme and said the district municipal administration and union council chairmen will be taken on board in this connection so that basic infrastructure for this programme could be made available in all districts of Karachi.

They said that RFK programme was aimed at providing safeguard to citizens against dog biting and spread of rabies virus among local population.

The sources said that the mayor directed the officials concerned to extend the RFK programmed to other areas of Karachi.

Strategies devised by the World Health Organisation and World Organisation for Animal Health were adopted in the RFK programme which involved anti rabies vaccination in dogs and animal birth control programme.

The meeting was attended by the metropolitan commissioner Dr Syed Saif-ur-Rehman, chairperson medical committee Naheed Fatima, financial adviser Dr Asghar Shaikh, senior director medical services Dr Beerbal, senior director coordination Masood Alam, head of Rabies Free Karachi Programme at Indus Hospital Dr Nasim Salahuddin, programme manager Rabia Mansoor Khan, team leader Aftab Gohar, research associate Abdullah Qureishi and other officers.

Giving briefing to the mayor, Dr Nasim Salahuddin said so far 2,145 dogs had been vaccinated in three union councils of Ibrahim Haidery whereas about 400 dogs were operated under animal birth control (ABC) programme.

She said that the local population was also taken into confidence before starting work in their area and community engagement sessions were conducted.

She said that the issue of rabies could be controlled in an area if 70 per cent dogs were vaccinated there.

“The dog catching and vaccination team has been trained by the expert from World Health Organisation and about 50 thousand kits were provided by the WHO for this purpose,” the team head further informed the meeting.

The Karachi mayor reviewing the overall project and its implementation in Karachi stressed the need to focus more on suburban areas and katchi abadies, besides continuing work in the main city.

He said the World Health Organisation has set the 2030 target for elimination of rabies in the world and the local government would provide all possible cooperation to WHO and other concerned organisation in this connection.

Mr Akhtar said that daily hundred to 150 cases of dog biting were reported in the city and 15,000 to 20,000 cases of dog biting were reported annually. “Most affected people are in industrial zones of the city”, he added.

He said that new technology was being used to control the rabies and for this purpose dogs would be given anti-rabies vaccine and operated under ABC programme.

Published in Dawn, May 30th, 2018