Flores, Lembata ‘to Be Rabies-Free’ by 2017
Kupang, East Nusa Tenggara. A nongovernmental group says it intends to completely eradicate rabies on the islands of Flores and Lembata by 2017, through close cooperation with local authorities and raising awareness among residents.
Asep Purnama, coordinator of the Rabies Prevention and Eradication Community, said on Monday that his organization was setting up committees on the two islands to coordinate anti-rabies efforts by the various district administrations.
“We need to bring together all nine district administrations and the people of Flores and Lembata so that we can commit more seriously to fighting rabies, which has claimed more than 250 lives here in the past 15 years,” he said.
He said a “road map” on eradicating rabies there by 2017 had been drawn up by Dr. Maria Geong, a Kupang-based expert on the disease, and would be presented at commemorations of National Rabies Day on Oct. 8.
Asep cited Maria as the driving force behind successful efforts to persuade the administration of Sikka district on Flores to set up a Livestock and Animal Health Agency, which he called an important first step in dealing with rabies.
“Sikka is the only district in Flores and Lembata that has an animal health agency, which is ironic because there are so many animals being reared here and no efforts to address their diseases,” he said.
In addition to working closely with the authorities, the anti-rabies group is also seeking to educate residents through its eradication campaign, using radio spots and print media, Asep said.