On Sunday 6 August the first ever mass rabies vaccination programme for dogs started in Kabul, Afghanistan, following a landmark agreement to end stray dog culling signed on 22 January between Mayhew International and Kabul City authorities.
Mayhew’s Afghanistan Country Director Dr. Abdul-Jalil Mohammadzai, who fled from Afghanistan to the UK when the Talibans seized power, has since been working to set up Mayhew's NGO facilities and "introduce and implement a long-term and sustainable animal welfare strategy". The project employs local staff, including vets and other vet professionals who will work as vaccinators, surveyors and data recorders. Municipality dog catchers received training to learn how to catch dogs in the most humane way possible from Humane Society International (HSI).
Dr. Mohammadzai DVM said, “Our mass rabies vaccination programme is very much welcomed by the government and the people in Kabul. We presently have a team of 16 staff who are working on the field and for the initial days, a small team from Ranchi in India. Everybody is very supportive.
“We believe that educating communities is the key to spreading the word about rabies prevention, safe interaction with community dogs, compassion towards animals and the benefits of neutering.”
Sunday was the first day of implementing the mass rabies vaccination programme, which will cover the main 16 districts in Kabul.
"The pilot day was a huge success with a lot of interest from the locals and a good start to our target of vaccinating up to 15,000 dogs against rabies in Kabul, based on the statistics from the first ever Dog Population Survey, carried out by Dr. Mohammadzai DVM in Kabul in 2015," a Mayhew statement reads. "The first year of the vaccination programme will also include a further population survey to ensure we are on track.
"Mayhew International would like to thank our wonderful supporters and the following organisations that have helped us make this life-saving programme a reality: Dogs Trust Worldwide, HSI, the team at WVS, Mission Rabies, HOPE & Animal Trust and MSD Animal Health, who have sponsored the rabies vaccinations for the project."
While this was a promising start, there is still much to do to bring the stray dog population in Kabul under control in the most effective and humane way possible. If you would like to donate towards the Mayhew International's efforts, you can do so through their website - stating that your donation is for Afghanistan.
Images by Mayhew.