Determined to make Bohol rabies-free by 2010, Gov. Erico Aumentado Friday launched an intensified anti-rabies campaign program involving massive vaccination of dogs with corresponding vaccines for humans.
At the Governor's Mansion, Aumentado signed a memorandum of understanding (MOU) with the Family Vaccine and Specialty Clinics (FVSC) to operate three animal bite treatment clinics in Bohol. These will be located in the Cong. Simeon Toribio Memorial Hospital (CSTMH) in Carmen, Cong. Teodoro Galagar Memorial Hospital in Jagna and the Cong. Natalio Castillo Memorial Hospital in Loon.
In the evening at the Villa Alzhun Tourist Inn and Restaurant also in Tagbilaran, Aumentado similarly launched a campaign in partnership with the Vaccines for the Philippines under its president Peter Reichman. It is a foundation of members of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints. The foundation is donating 500 vials of anti-rabies vaccines for humans, on top of the previous 200 vials it donated to Bohol a while back.
Provincial Health Officer Reymoses Cabagnot, Legal Officer Handel Lagunay and Veterinarian Stella Marie Lapiz stood as witnesses.
Lapiz said Bohol has high incidences of dog bites; its registered deaths due to rabies made the province No. 1 in Central Visayas - a record that Aumentado does not want to hold, more so because Bohol is now declared as the country's top tourist destination.
Because the governor cannot just close his eyes on dog-bitten constituents seeking aid to complete the vaccination process that costs thousands of pesos, he tapped the private sector - the FVSC that also aims to make the country rabies-free.
The human vaccines for bite victims will be complemented with the massive vaccination of dogs, with the Department of Health (DOH) through Undersecretary Ethelyn Nieto committing to provide 12,000 vials of the vaccines, as well as the elimination of stray dogs.
Nieto issued the commitment during the 2nd National Anti-Rabies Summit held at the Bohol Tropics Resort last March. Aumentado and Lapiz are now following up the Nieto commitment.
Aumentado also directed Lagunay to prepare a model ordinance for the Bohol towns to adopt - for the sake of uniformity. The ordinance prescribes, among others, penalties for those remiss in responsible pet ownership.
The ordinance carries penalties for those who refuse to have their dogs vaccinated, not putting dogs on a leash, or just letting their pet dogs loose.
Statistics show high percentages of victims bitten by pet dogs than by strays.
Similarly, there are more cases of deaths from rabies not by bites but because the victim ate the dog, especially in areas where dog meat is considered a delicacy.
The animal bite clinics will be in addition to the treatment centers at the Gov. Celestino Gallares Memorial Regional Training Hospital in Tagbilaran City and the Garcia Memorial Provincial Hospital in Talibon town. Except for the Gallares Hospital, the four other hospitals are devolved, hence provincial government-operated.
On the other hand, the responsibilities of FVSC under Chito San Agustin, business development manager, include the provision of low-cost medicine that aims to reduce the cost especially for the marginalized.
Prior to the implementation however, the MOU specified conditions that each party should comply - FVSC shall secure Bureau of Food and Drugs (BFAD) approval and DOH requirements for all its anti-rabies and other vaccines which must comply with World Health Organization (WHO) standards; administration of the vaccines must comply with DOH administrative orders (AOs) and memoranda.
AO 164 s. 2002 is the Revised Guidelines on Management of Animal Bite Patients on the Immunization Program Policies, amended by AO 2005-0022 dated Aug. 25, 2005.
But, no public funds shall be disbursed by the provincial government for the vaccines to be supplied by FVSC. When no free DOH vaccines are available, the clinics shall refer the patients to FVSC. Bite victims administered with anti-rabies vaccines will be allowed the use of a hospital bed, the MOU read.
Meanwhile, FVSC shall provide for free the intra-dermal injection of active anti-rabies vaccines to patients referred by the clinics, keep sufficient inventory of the vaccines and provide its own storage facilities and equipment inside the clinic, following the cold chain storage for all the vaccines. This is because it is liable for any adverse reactions that the animal bite victim might suffer upon the administration of the vaccine.
The MOU also allows the patients to choose which of the available vaccines will be administered to them for their care.
All the while, FVSC will allow the Bohol Provincial Rabies Control and Eradication Council to monitor and evaluate all the clinics and cold chain equipment including the vaccines and the records during business operating hours with or without prior notice.
Both parties will also undertake massive information campaign to create public awareness on animal bite prevention, treatment and management. (Bohol Chronicle, June 3, 2007)