Animals Asia becomes first NGO to join Rabies Prevention and Control Committee in China

28 September 2020

China Rabies Annula Conference 2020

Animals Asia is thrilled to announce that Suki Deng, our Director of China Cat and Dog Welfare Programme has been formally appointed as a member of the first Rabies Prevention and Control Committee of the Chinese Preventive Medicine Association. We are also humbled that Animals Asia is the only Non Governmental Organization (NGO) to be selected to join this important task force, whose aim is to eradicate rabies in China by 2030.

Rabies, a viral disease that is mostly transmitted from dogs to humans, accounts for tens of thousands of deaths every year, mostly in Asia and Africa. 40% of rabies-related deaths occur in children under the age of 15.

It is a big problem. So much so, that the World Health Organisation (WHO) has committed to ensuring there are “zero human deaths from dog-mediated rabies by 2030". The Committee in China was established to bring experts and interested agencies and departments together to end this preventable disease.

Animals Asia has worked tirelessly to combat and prevent the spread of rabies in China for many years, undertaking research, educational and outreach programmes, and collaborating with local communities and government departments to forge understanding and ultimately, change.

Responsible dog ownership activities

The most effective way of preventing the spread of rabies, which most often occurs when a rabid dog bites or scratches someone, is by vaccinating dogs. We also believe that the dog and cat meat trade contributes to the transmission of rabies, and have been in discussions with the government about closing the industry down.

And we have been honoured to witness some exciting progress in this area, with Shenzhen and Zhuhai outlawing the consumption of cats and dogs, and Laixi City in the Shandong Province prohibiting the killing of dogs for meat. In the latest version of the “Catalogue of the Genetic Resources of Livestock and Poultry” released in May 2020, dogs are no longer classed as livestock. 

With regards to preventing the spread of rabies by promoting responsible dog ownership, Animals Asia adopts a multi-pronged approach which began in 2011 with the launch of the China Dog Ownership Management Symposium which brought experts together to discuss dog management and the active prevention and control of rabies. 

In 2014, we produced “Cat and Dog Welfare around Us”, a film that was widely distributed and voted by millions as one of the country’s “Top Ten Charity Videos” and we regularly visit classrooms across the country to deliver fun and educational activities in order to change attitudes and raise awareness among young people.

Students are watching our  film cat and dog welfare around us to learn about interaction with animals

In 2019, Animals Asia undertook a comprehensive study into attitudes towards dog ownership in rural China and found that most do not vaccinate their pets and do not know what to do in the event of infection. So we embarked on an ambitious project to educate as many people as possible about the benefits of vaccinating dogs and how to prevent and treat rabies infections.

Tens of thousands of educational materials were distributed to 157 villages, 62 counties and 14 cities across rural China with households learning, perhaps for the first time, how they can directly help prevent the spread of this long-standing disease.

A woman in a rural village displays a calendar distributed by Animals Asia on preventing rabies

Gao Fu, academician of the Chinese Academy of Sciences and director of the China CDC, said “it is the foundation and core of the successful elimination of rabies that the government should issue targeted laws and regulations and clarify the responsibilities and requirements of the dog management department” (sic).

Animals Asia met the Jinchang government in the Gansu province  in 2018 to discuss dog ownership management

Animals Asia will continue this important work as we always have to prevent thousands of unnecessary human and animal deaths every year. With our induction onto the Rabies Prevention Committee and the recent outlawing of the sale of dogs and cats for meat, we are already seeing seismic changes in attitudes and behaviours towards animals in Asia, the likes of which have never been seen before.  It confirms what we already believed: that education is key in showing people that change can happen, and that the only cure - for so many ills in the world - really is kindness.