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  Home >> Animal Issues - Stray Dogs >> Putting Animal Birth Control and rabies in perspective

  Putting Animal Birth Control and rabies in perspective 

I have gone through the various reports and recommendations on rabies eradication and the ABC (Animal Birth Control) programme, and I noticed a general fear among critics that human rabies deaths would increase due to ABC.

I have a few comments to make:

30,000 rabies deaths are reported in India every year of which the majority occur in rural India . The WHO Technical Report 931 (displayed on Karmayog) says 84 per cent of rabies deaths in Asia are in rural areas. This is a very key point, curiously omitted in all the critiques of the ABC programme that have been displayed on Karmayog. 

Given the magnitude of  rabies in rural India and the fact that it is five times greater than it is in cities, I was rather surprised to find that the entire issue has been overlooked by concerned citizens.

In sharp contrast, considerable effort and research has been directed to the problem of rabies in a few select cities. Rabies seems to be considered a danger only in the limited urban areas where ABC programmes have been implemented. In fact, a disproportionately huge importance has been given to the role of the ABC programme in the Indian rabies scene, considering that its impact is actually miniscule. ABC programmes are being carried out only in a handful of Indian cities, so they can hardly be impacting the rabies scene at a national level. Even in a city with a full-fledged dog-killing programme, ABC has been presented as a grave threat!

In the small area impacted by the ABC programme, its role has been positive, especially in Mumbai. The disastrous consequences predicted by various critics are not supported by rabies deaths statistics supplied by the civic bodies.

Putting Mumbai in the national perspective: rabies deaths in Mumbai used to constitute 0.16% of the total reported, and they have now dropped to 0.05%. 

I don't think the issue of rabies in Mumbai really needs any further discussion. The real question is whether the various critics really aim at the elimination of rabies or the elimination of the ABC programme? 

Dec 1, 2005

It is one of the beautiful compensations of this life that no one can sincerely try to help another without helping himself. --Charles Dudley Warner