LEGAZPI CITY, Sept. 3 (PNA) -- The World Organization for Animal Health Care or OIE on Tuesday launched a Php 40-million project against rabies at the Oriental Hotel here.
The project is called Stop Trans-boundary Animal Diseases and Zoonoses or STANDZ.
The Australian Aid gave the Php 40-million funding for the project in Albay, Camarines Sur, Camarines Norte and Masbate.
Dr. Romello Abila, OIE Southeast sub-regional representative, said the Department of Agriculture received 300,000 vaccines for dogs in the four provinces from their organization.
The program, targeted for three years, aims to make Bicol dog rabies-free in 2016 while the entire country, in 2020 -- simultaneous with other Asian countries.
Abila said they chose Bicol for the project owing to the geographical location of the region.
Aside from this, she said, they considered the region's program on tourism, particularly the AlMaSor or the Albay-Masbate-Sorsogon Tourism Link, which was conceptualized and impelemented by Gov. Joey Sarte Salceda as head of the Regional Development Council (RDC) for Bicol.
Abila stressed that if there are no cases of rabies in a certain place, more local and foreign tourists will be attracted to come.
OIE Special Adviser Dr. Gardner Murray said they chose the Philippines because the country has a national program for the care of animals as well as a campaign to control and eradicate rabies.
Murray expressed confidence that the collaboration between OIE and the Philippines will succeed.
The Paris-based OIE was formed in l924 and has a membership of more than 100 countries.
Aside from Paris, it has also offices in Bangkok, Thailand and Australia.
The organization's main objective is to take care of the health of different animals in the world and the eradication and control of their diseases.
Provincial Administrator Jesap Salceda thanked the officials of the OIE and the DA for choosing Albay as one of the pilot provinces in the region for the implementation of the project.
The provincial official said Albay is one with the entire country to become rabies-free in 2016.
He said the cases of rabies in the province have greatly gone down, based on the report of the Regional Animal Disease Diagnostic Laboratory.
Salceda said the province recorded 19 cases of canine rabies in 2012, which went down to 10 in 2013 and two cases this year.
He said the Albay Provincial Health Office, meanwhile, posted five human rabies in 2012, six in 2013 and one this year.
The provincial executive said the aggressive campaign of the province against dog rabies yielded a positive result, based on the zero-rabies program of the province.
He added that in a short time, the province has vaccinated 92,869 dogs, representing 80 percent of its target canine rabies vaccination. (PNA) CTB/FGS/NIM/CBD/UTB