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