Mission Rabies

Mission Rabies: Eliminating the world’s deadliest virus in India

Lead Organization

Mission Rabies

Cranborne, England, United Kingdom


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To learn more about – or provide significant funding to – this project, please contact Lever for Change.

Project Summary

Rabies, the world’s deadliest virus, kills 100 children every day. Despite being eliminated from many countries, rabies continues taking its devastating toll on the world’s neglected and vulnerable. Infected dog bites cause 99% of human cases, once clinical symptoms appear it is 100% fatal. Globally, millions are exposed to the disease, tens of thousands die; a third occur among the rural poor of India. However, rabies is 100% preventable. The key is vaccinating dogs. Since 2013, Mission Rabies has mobilized mega canine-vaccination, education and surveillance projects striking at the heart of rabies-stricken hotspots, dramatically reducing deaths. Goa is on the cusp of becoming India’s first rabies-free state; we stand poised to save more lives by scaling existing rabies elimination programs throughout India. Breaking rabies in India will establish a blueprint for elimination that can be applied to other countries and finally make rabies history.

Problem Statement

Since 1885, rabies has been 100% vaccine preventable. Dogs bites cause 99% of human rabies deaths. In India, dogs are ubiquitous and every two seconds someone is bitten by a dog. Strays roam, surviving on giant mounds of garbage, some are community dogs rewarded with food for controlling vermin or providing security, and some are beloved pets. Bearing the brunt of this horrific virus are India’s poor in areas where life-saving post-exposure treatment is often non-existent or too costly. India is the world’s #1 rabies hotspot. Each year 2.5 million people are exposed to the virus, 20,000 die, 40% of whom are children under 15. However, the burden is not properly understood, many victims are invisible because economic barriers prevent them reporting to hospital and death is inevitable following clinical onset. In addition to the devastating toll rabies takes on families, the economic burden on India is $2.4bn.Culling dogs is ineffective and can increase the spread of the disease. Human vaccination is too costly. Lack of awareness contributes to the disease being widely under-reported. Decades of research have repeatedly emphasized rabies elimination through vaccination of 70% of the dog population is not only technologically and biologically feasible, but also highly cost-effective.Mission Rabies’ approach is proven. We have the solution; with funding we can scale our programs throughout India and beyond. Ultimately, the most neglected are suffering needlessly. Families should not have to watch their children die from a disease that is 100% preventable.

Solution Overview

Executing this massive project across India will require collaboration with governments, national bodies, academic institutions and local NGOs. Mission Rabies will provide project implementation, training, monitoring and evaluation, and budget management. Starting in southern states and expanding into northern regions, we will work with key partners for sustainable national implementation, including:- Coordinating campaign roll-out through state administration via the National Center for Disease Control and the Association for the Prevention and Control of Rabies in India - Partnering with local, state and national government to establish national standard operating procedures (SOPs) and to make government workforce and infrastructure available. - Support local government to create recruitment and training centers for vaccination and education teams, providing training in the national SOPs. - Coordinating a national rabies surveillance network with the University of Bangalore and National Institute for Mental Health and Neuroscience. - Supporting campaign analysis and evaluation with the University of Edinburgh. - Engaging community and local NGOs to support campaign implementation.We can immediately reduce rabies deaths and establish sustainable strategies in project sites by:- Vaccinating minimum 70% dogs, measured via the App.- Reducing risk by increasing rabies awareness, rabies first aid and dog bite avoidance via deployment of education programs in each area, measured by knowledge, attitude and practice (KAP) surveys and contact tracing surveys.- Improving data accuracy through the rabies surveillance system that will uncover exposures not currently presenting at hospital.- Ensuring limited post-exposure prophylaxis become better targeted to patients with the highest risk, measured through the surveillance system.

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