Govt Ramps Up Anti-Rabies Spending

DENPASAR

The provincial government has earmarked another Rp10 billion (US$1.07 million) to fight rabies in Bali. The money is from the reserve fund set up to control the spread of the disease, which broke out in 2008.

The government plans to spend most of the money on ensuring supplies of post-exposure vaccines are always available. Up to now supply difficulties and lax bureaucracy have led to periodic shortages and to hospitals running out of the vaccine.

Rabies is invariably fatal once symptoms appear and because there are no effective dog control measures in place it is essential for bite victims to be given the full vaccine course immediately. Symptoms may not appear for up to a year after a bite from a rabid animal.

Government spokesman Putu Suardika said on Wednesday that ensuring funds were available was the most important issue so that transmission of rabies to humans could be minimised.

He said the government hoped Denpasar city authorities and the regencies would also set aside funding reserves in a renewed bid to halt the spread of the disease.

“Not only in terms of funding assistance, but also assistance in the form of information to the public is important to combat the spread of rabies,” Suardika said.

So far this year Bali’s government has allocated about Rp3.3 billion ($355,000) for culling and vaccination of dogs and Rp2.5 billion ($268,000) to buy anti-rabies vaccine.

Eight of Bali’s nine administrative districts are now declared rabies areas. Only Jembrana is still officially free of the disease. The death toll from the disease is approaching 60.

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