The Institut Pasteur du Cambodge and Sipar have launched a five-year action plan in collaboration with the government to reduce the death rate from rabies by 50 percent.
A statement on the plan said 800 people are affected by rabies each year and only around 40,000 people are vaccinated annually, despite an estimated 600,000 Cambodians being bitten by dogs every year.
The statement also noted the disease is 100 percent lethal if no vaccination is present, but that rabies is 100 percent preventable by vaccination, even after bite injuries.
The plan, which pulls in the health, education and agricultural ministries, calls for more education in order to increase the vaccination rate.
Two rabies vaccination centres will also be established in two provinces outside Phnom Penh, with one centre in Battambang and the other in Kampong Cham province.
“The target is to reduce rabies mortality in Cambodia by 50 percent and save 2,000 lives in five years,” the statement said.
Director of the Institut Pasteur in Cambodia Didier Fontenille said that rabies in Cambodia is mainly transmitted by dogs, the majority of which are not vaccinated.
“The majority of these dogs have owners, with very few being strays,” he said.
Health Ministry spokesman Ly Sovann said rabies can spread easily to humans if a person is bitten or scratched by infected dogs or bats.
According to studies carried out by the Epidemiology and Public Health Unit at the Institut Pasteur in Cambodia, rural communities have on average one dog for every three people – the highest reported figure in the world.
With about 80 percent of Cambodia’s population living in the countryside, rural areas are home to more than four million dogs.