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PORT-AU-PRINCE, Haiti (CMC) — Brazil has donated 15,000 doses of human rabies vaccine to Haiti, intended to protect humans after they have been exposed to rabies.

The Pan American health Organisation (PAHO) said that the donation, made with the support of the Pan American Foot-and-Mouth Disease Center (PANAFTOSA) was delivered by Brazilian Minister of Health Ricardo Barros during a visit here last week.

PAHO said the region of the Americas, which includes the Caribbean, is very close to eliminating human rabies transmitted by dogs, adding that Haiti is one of the priority countries.

PAHO, through PANAFTOSA, its specialised center in Veterinary Public Health, said it supports national actions in Haiti to eliminate this disease.

In addition to facilitating the vaccine donation process, PANAFTOSA said it also has been supporting, since 2016, the training of 283 Haitian health professionals working in 110 health centers.

The training covers medical care of people who have been exposed to the rabies virus in seven of the 10 departments that are in the country, PAHO said, adding it has worked with the Haitian Ministry of Public Health and Population to ensure that the 110 health centers have the vaccine available and that professionals trained to apply it in all of them.

“These actions aim to improve access to treatment for the most vulnerable people.They have worked together to distribute information materials in the local language on rabies and how to act in case of aggression by dogs that may have rabies.”

PAHO said another key action for the elimination of human rabies transmitted by dogs is the canine vaccination campaigns implemented by the Ministry of Agriculture, Natural Resources and Rural Development of Haiti.

“These actions benefit from technical collaboration by PANAFTOSA, PAHO and the United States Centers for Disease Control (CDC), as well as other national and international actors,” PAHO said, adding that rabies is a disease caused by a virus transmitted to humans through bites or scratches from infected animals, mainly dogs and wild animals, such as bats.

“There are safe and effective vaccines to prevent rabies in animals, as well as vaccines for human use to be administered before and after suspicious exposures. The immediate cleaning of the wound and vaccination as soon as possible after contact with an allegedly rabid animal, in most cases, prevents the onset of illness and death.”

PAHO said the number of cases of human rabies in the Americas has declined more than 95 per cent since 1980. However, it said some countries continue to report cases.

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