Quarterly Training Report – Rabies-Free Karachi (RFK)

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Program Director:                Dr. Naseem Salahuddin

Project Title:                         Rabies Free Karachi

Report Period:                      Quarter 1: January– May, 2018

Pilot Location:     Ibrahim Hyderi, Bin Qasim Town, Karachi

Overview:

In response to the growing concerns of dog-bite incidents in Karachi, the ‘Rabies-Free Karachi’ project under the aegis of Indus Hospital Research Center (IHRC) was formed. This is an initiative led by Dr. Naseem Salahuddin, Head of Infectious Diseases department at The Indus Hospital, Karachi.

The pilot project is implemented in Ibrahim Hyderi in collaboration with Karachi’s leading veterinarians, animal-right activists, community engagement experts, doctors and researchers.

Objective:

At The Indus Hospital, 20-25 dog bite cases are reported every day. To combat this public health issue and reduce dog population, the recommended strategy is to perform Animal Birth Control (ABC) through spaying and neutering. Mass Dog Vaccination (MDV) of at least 70% of dogs in an area is suggested, which will produce herd immunity against rabies. Through community engagement sessions, dialogue can be maintained with local residents and awareness can be spread through talks, flyers and presentations.

Training Report:

  • Day 1: Inaugural ceremony

The Welcome Address was given by Dr. Naseem Salahuddin (Program Director – RFK). She delivered a presentation to introduce the project by describing the narrative, rationale, core objectives, with a special focus on Mass Dog Vaccinations (MDV) and Animal Birth Control (ABC). Mr. Daniel Stewart, WHO Animal Behaviourist, introduced the dog-catching workshop to follow; Dr. Sara Salman spoke about WHO support for the project, and Mr. WaseemAkhtar, the city Mayor, made an inaugural address. Dr. NailaBaig-Ansari (Chair – Indus Hospital Research Center) gave the concluding remarks and emphasized the importance of this program.

Refreshments were served, followed by a field visit to the Ibrahim Hyderi surgical site where the Mayor inspected the container and cage enclosures, and formally cut the ribbon to initiate the project.

Mr. Daniel gave a lecture on knowledge, attitudes and practices. He also engaged in discussion with participants’ familiarity with vaccination of dogs: their behavior and campaign strategies along with their pros and cons. He also stressed the importance of maintaining the cold chain for the vaccines, and explained the protocol for transportation and storage of equipment.

  • Day 3:

Mr. Daniel gave a lecture on dog-handling and using equipment correctly. He also highlighted the difference in dog populations; revised the different vaccination strategies proposed; spoke about the best method to sensitize and raise awareness amongst the community members using different sources such as posters, radios and community centers.

Dr. Naseem Salahuddin gave a presentation on rabies pathophysiology rabies pre-exposure prophylaxis in humans, and Dr. Kausar Khan introduced the SALT approach (a well tested tool of participatory action research) of community engagement.

  • Day 4:

Field training began with mass dog vaccinations and animal birth control happening simultaneously. Mr. Daniel gave lectures on various topics such as observing dog behavior and how to vaccinate dogs correctly (trap, catch, inject, spray-paint, release).

  • Day 5:

Field training resumed. There were door to door vaccinations, with a focus on community owned and free-roaming dogs.

  • Day 6:

There was a discussion of the prior days’ training to focus on what worked well and what can be improved upon in terms of mass dog vaccinations. Group exercises in the classroom were facilitated by Mr. Daniel, who also educated participated on bite prevention. He also spoke about the importance of responsible dog ownership and provision of food and water to dogs that are in rehabilitative care after surgery.

  • Day 7:

A training session took place inside an Ibrahim Hyderi school, where young students were made aware about the project and its importance. Later in the day, there was a discussion on field activities and vaccination campaigns. The rest of the day was spent on the field: vaccinations and spreading awareness to the local residents.

  • Days 8-10:

Field activities resumed throughout the day with mass dog vaccinations and raising awareness within the community.

  • Day 11:

The closing ceremony took place inside Khaskheli Hall, Ibrahim Hyderi. The core team distributed certificates to all the participants and speeches were given by Mr. Daniel and Dr. Bernadette Abela-Ridder (Team Leader – Neglected Zoonotic Diseases in the Department of the Control of Neglected Tropical Diseases, WHO). Following this, a trip to the site was made by all team members.

 

*Rabies Data Collector devices were used to map out GPS coordinates of the vaccinated dogs, in order to, identify regions covered and plan next route.

**A site in Ibrahim Hyderi, Bin Qasim Town, has been selected to administer operational activities. This site measures195’3’’ x 200’, and has GPS coordinates of 24°47’41.1″N 67°08’55.4″E (‘24.79476,67.1487311’ on Google Maps).

 

  • Progress tracking during training phase:
# Objective Target achieved
1 Mass dog vaccinations 454
2 Surgical sterilization 10
  • Jan 23rd -31st, 2018:The hiring process of successful participants from the training was administered. Operational manuals, terms of reference, purchase of equipment, medicines and chemicals were ordered.
  • February, 2018 onwards: RFK program officially initiated its work

January – May, 2018 Target Statistics

Three out of four union councils have almost been covered for Mass Dog Vaccinations by the RFK team.

As our vets have been receiving training and are familiarizing themselves with the surgery procedure, we are optimistic that the number of surgeries will rise significantly overtime.

Through the rabies data collector devices, which were used to track information about dogs’ GPS coordinates, gender and age, the following information was obtained (n=2,145). The information for the latter two variables is illustrated below:

 

Community engagement

  • RFK team members Dr. Kausar S. Khan, and AftabGoher, accompanied by RFK assistants met various members of the Ibrahim Hyderi community in separate mohallas every Thursday. The team distributed flyers and posters, and maintained a dialogue with local residents in streets, shops, schools, mosques and outside their homes. The purpose of these sessions were to raise awareness about rabies, address the common misconceptions pertaining to it, encourage peoples’ liking and affection towards stray animals, express appreciation for RFK’s endeavours and address any community’s possible apprehensions, comments and feedback from the community.
  • 5th April, 2018: As part of RFK’s city-wide scale up, a meeting was held at the Ibrahim Hyderi site with team members and DC West. The broader vision of animal cruelty work: sanctuary, legislation, animal rescues and rehabilitation were discussed.

Programmatic Discussions

  • The core team assigned at Indus Hospital Research Center has been holding regular meetings to discuss and evaluate new methods to upscale the project. They have also maintained social media presence to encourage others to partake in this cause.
  • An external veterinary consultant, Dr. Waseem Hassan, has been assigned to give project veterinarians a refresher course on how to perform surgeries on dogs by following the appropriate protocol.

Strategy for Quarter 2:

  1. To consolidate, pick up pace and scale up mass dog vaccinations and animal sterilization surgeries in Ibrahim Hyderi
  2. To initiate work in the remaining two union councils
  3. Reach out to other communities for possible replication of this project. Our team has been approached by various District Councils of Karachi to initiate the project onto other others. SPAR (Society for Protection of Animal Rights), in collaboration with RFK, is actively engaged with District Counselors to dissuade dog culling, and instead take on RFK’s experience in this humane method of animal birth control and mass dog vaccination. Encouraging discussions are in progress.

For more program updates, kindly access our online presence:

  • Facebook: www.facebook.com/rabiesfreekarachi
  • Online donate link: https://supportindushospital.org/projects/rabies-free-karachi

 

Core Team Members:

Dr. Naseem Salahuddin – Project Director

Dr. Naila Baig-Ansari, PhD.,Chair – Indus Hospital Research Center

Mr. Aftab Goher, Rabies Free Karachi Coordinator, TIH

Ms. Rabia Khan, Program Manager – Indus Hospital Research Center

Dr. Kausar S. Khan, PhD., Behavioral and Social Sciences – Aga Khan University

Mr. Muhammad Abdullah Qureshi, Research Associate – Indus Hospital Research Center

Collaborators:

Dr. Isma Gheewala, Senior Veterinarian, Animal Care Center

Ms. Rashna Dubash, Animal Rightist

Mr. Zain Mustafa, President, Society for Promotion of Animal Rights (SPAR)

Dr. Waseem Hassan, Veterinary Consultant (SurgVet Clinic)

Dr. Naseem Salahuddin giving a presentation highlighting the project