DepEd spearheads program raising rabies awareness, prevention

Published September 30, 2019, 3:08 PM

by Martin Sadongdong & Antonio Colina

By Merlina Hernando-Malipot 

To further strengthen the integration of rabies programs and anti-rabies advocacies in the national education curriculum, the Department of Education (DepEd) on Monday formally launched 78 lesson plans in collaboration with various partners.

Pet owners bring their animals at the PSPCA (Philippine Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals) along Recto Ave., in Manila to get them vaccinated against rabies and free consultation as the country celebrates World Animal Day on October 4, 2018. (Ali Vicoy/ MANILA BULLETIN))

Anchored on the theme “Rabies: Educate to Eliminate,” the DepEd, Department of Agriculture (DA), Department of Health (DOH), and Department of the Interior and Local Government (DILG) convened to raise rabies awareness and prevention for the World Rabies Day celebrated every September 28.

The conference entitled “World Rabies Day 2019 Celebration” was held at the DepEd Bulwagan ng Karunungan, Pasig City. Some of the highlights of the conference were the launching of rabies lesson plans; awarding of best rabies local government implementers; and declaration of national and sub-national rabies free zone.

In his keynote speech for the 2019 National World Rabies Day celebration, Assistant Secretary Salvador Malana III explained that the lesson plans “were developed as a result of the collaborative efforts of various stakeholders and cooperating agencies.”

Malana noted that education messages are along the various areas of the National Prevention and Control Program which includes: mass vaccination of dogs, dog population management, health promotion, advocacy on responsible pet ownership, among others. The Department of Education is mandated under Republic Act 9482, or the Anti-Rabies Act of 2007, to strengthen the national rabies education program through the school health curriculum.

“We know, and thanks to the many efforts dedicated to the study of rabies, that our children are most vulnerable to rabies —a highly fatal viral disease,” Malana said. “The Philippines is said to be endemic to rabies and the threat of the disease is considered a serious problem — a risk that could afflict our loved ones,” he added.

Citing studies, Malana noted that “an average of 200 to 250 Filipinos die of rabies annually, 30% of which are children” while “animal bite incidence is also rapidly increasing with 699,705 animal bite victims in 2015 to 1,130,873 in 2017 wherein almost half of the bites reported are children.”

Education, Intervention, and Empowerment

Malana explained that the national rabies education integration initiative is expected to benefit an estimated 21 million learners in more than 46,000 schools nationwide.

“Intervention at an early age is expected to empower children, their teachers and their families with the knowledge to protect themselves from bites, prevent rabies and save lives,” Malana said. “Through integration, correct understanding of rabies, and everything about it — including transmission and prevention, could be inculcated in children by deliberately and carefully designing an environment where learning could be best delivered and be most meaningful and effective,” he added.

Malana also stressed that that education programs about rabies and animal welfare “can improve the awareness of rabies and hopefully contribute to a reduction of rabies cases in children” – noting that “most cases in humans affect children and transmission to humans occur mainly through dog bites, which make children’s knowledge about dog behavior and how to avoid dog bites important to prevent rabies cases in humans.”

“Through education programs about how to take care of other creatures, the prospect is to increase animal welfare by changing the attitudes of children towards animals,” Malana said. The 78 lesson plans, he explained, will be uploaded to the DepEd online portal.

Meanwhile, Malana also commended DepEd’s partners “whose inputs and inspiration have made curriculum integration more achievable over the course of the work.” DepEd, he added, extends its “enormous gratitude” to those individuals and organizations “who have worked with us in every stage to ensure that through the development of the lesson plans we are able to communicate a strong, coherent and engaging message to our learners, teachers and the relevant members of our communities.”

Pursuant to Republic Act (R.A) No. 9482, or the Anti-Rabies Act of 2007, DepEd responds to the mandate to strengthen the national rabies education program in the K to 12 curriculum. The participants of the event are officials and representatives from DepEd, DOH, DAR, DILG, members of the National Rabies Prevention and Control Committee, awardees, teachers, and students.