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Economic development not enough to end rabies, affected by poverty: Study

In a significant study, Surrey researchers studied whether rabies instances are an unavoidable result of poverty or whether other development initiatives



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According to the latest research from the University of Surrey, economic progress may not be sufficient to fulfil the internationally agreed-upon aim of eliminating human mortality from dog-mediated rabies.
The study indicates that immediate effort is required to eradicate the fatal disease, which has strong associations with poverty, by encouraging responsible pet ownership and targeting vulnerable communities.
In a significant study, Surrey researchers studied whether rabies instances are an unavoidable result of poverty or whether other development initiatives, such as healthcare access, might help combat this preventable disease.
Despite being an entirely preventable disease, more than 60,000 people worldwide die from rabies every year," said Dr Emma Taylor, a Research Fellow in the School of Veterinary Medicine at the University of Surrey and a Surrey Future Fellow. Rabies must be eliminated as a priority, with appropriate funds identified and resources dispersed, or it will continue to be a threat to world health and decimate the most vulnerable people. Economic growth is a crucial step towards lowering the danger of rabies, but it cannot be the only step."
Transmitted through the bite of a rabid animal, the rabies virus infects the central nervous system of mammals which ultimately leads to death. Swift treatment with post-exposure prophylaxis (PEP) can prevent the disease from developing in people, but it can be expensive and is not universally accessible for many.
To learn more, researchers examined data from over 100 different countries, using three measures of development to assess either the economic wealth of a country (total gross domestic product (GDP), and current health expenditure) and the proportion of deprivation experienced by the individual level (Multidimensional Poverty Index).
Researchers found no relationship between death rates caused by rabies and the GDP of a country and no significant association between health expenditure (% GDP) and rabies incidence. Interestingly, no association was found to occur between health expenditure and the probability of receiving PEP indicating that economic growth alone may not be sufficient in ensuring healthcare access.However, researchers did find the higher the level of deprivation, depicted by a high MPI ranking within countries, the higher the probability that the patient would not receive PEP and consequentially the higher the death rate would be from rabies. Researchers believe that the link between MPI and rabies deaths may be due to a lack of education and awareness of rabies and the ability to travel to receive PEP.
Professor Dan Horton, Professor of Veterinary Virology at the University of Surrey, said, "The elimination of dog-mediated human
rabies in many countries shows that the goals are within our reach. However economic growth alone is not enough to achieve this goal and greater focus should be given to dog vaccinations and educating the most vulnerable about rabies."
These results help to inform important next steps to meet the global 2030 goal of achieving zero human deaths as a result of dog-mediated
rabies. The University of Surrey continues to generate evidence and contributes to the leading global partnership for rabies elimination, the United Against Rabies Forum, a collaboration with WHO, WOAH and the UN-FAO which is directly informing international and national rabies control.published in PloS Neglected Tropical Diseases.

(Only the headline and picture of this report may have been reworked by the Business Standard staff; the rest of the content is auto-generated from a syndicated feed.)

Topics : Rabies

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First Published: Apr 23 2023 | 12:41 PM IST

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