Vaccine shortage, excess workload of vets hamper anti-rabies vaccination programme


Kottayam/Kozhikode: Kerala government's bid to address the threat posed by stray dogs has been hobbled by a shortage of anti-rabies vaccines and a lack of adequate number of veterinary doctors.

The State has commenced Animal Birth Control (ABC) and Mass Dog Vaccination (MDV) programmes on an urgent basis in the wake of the grave menace posed by street dogs. But these initiatives may not find their desired ends as the veterinary doctors are in a standoff with authorities over excess workload. Adding to the problem is a severe shortage of anti-rabies vaccines.

Only the anti-rabies vaccination of pet dogs is progressing at present. The authorities would not be able to complete the drive before September 30, as decided earlier, given the current pace of the project. A major reason for the delay is the transfer of responsibility from the Local Self-Government department to the Animal Husbandry department. 

There are differences of opinion within the latter department over the appointment of veterinary surgeons as implementation officers for both programmes. The veterinary doctors complain they can't handle the excess workload when they are reeling under an acute shortage of personnel who are needed to assist in their tasks.

No decision yet on training centre

Meanwhile, the government is yet to act on a proposal submitted by the Kozhikode Municipal Corporation for starting a state-level centre to train personnel in catching stray dogs and related sterilization activities. The proposal, which can save the high cost of sending employees to Ootty and Goa for training, was submitted in November 2020, but the concerned department is yet to take up the same.

The Corporation council wanted to develop the Animal Birth Control Centre into a training centre, citing it as a successful model. The aim was to train veterinary graduates, dog catchers, officials of local-self bodies, and people’s representatives.

The proposal clearly stated that the project would not incur a high cost as the infrastructure and other facilities are already there. But the government failed to act on the same.

The local self-government bodies are finding it difficult to implement programmes assigned to them, given the shortage of trained officials and employees.

The district panchayats and other local body institutions have even given advertisements for appointing dog catchers and veterinary doctors on a contract basis. Meanwhile, the public remains vulnerable to the threat from strays.

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