Jakarta (ANTARA) - The Ministry of Health has said that the COVID-19 pandemic has emerged as one of the factors behind the rise in rabies cases in Indonesia.

"The peak was 2022. In 2020, 2021, those (years) were the era of COVID-19; all activities were halted, including vaccinations for pets," Director of Prevention and Control of Communicable Diseases at the Ministry of Health Imran Pambudi said at a press conference, which was followed online on Friday.

He further said that the declining effectiveness of vaccines among animals caused a surge in cases in 2022.

Pambudi noted that the number of cases of people bitten by animals that can transmit rabies stood at 82,634 in 2020, with 40 deaths reported in the country. In 2021, the number of cases stood at 57,257 with 72 deaths. In 2022, the case count reached 104,229 and the death toll was recorded at 102.

"And in 2023 so far, there have been more than 31 thousand cases of bites reported, and there have been 11 deaths," he added.

He further informed that as of May 2023, rabies has been endemic in 25 provinces and there are only 8 provinces in the country that are free from rabies.

According to him, there are several efforts that must be made to handle rabies in Indonesia, with the first being continuous coordination between ministries and institutions under the One Health approach.

The efforts must also include readying rabies management guidelines for all primary and secondary health facilities, training zoonoses program managers from the human, animal, and wild animal health sectors, and providing logistical support in the form of anti-rabies vaccine and anti-rabies serum.

Further efforts must include providing communication, information, and education media to all primary and secondary health facilities, carrying out an integrated epidemiological investigation if there is an increase in cases or outbreaks, carrying out surveillance in humans through the early alertness and response system, and forming rabies centers.

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Translator: Zubi Mahrofi, Raka Adji
Editor: Azis Kurmala
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