The disconnect between efforts to protect animal health and human health in China has dangerous consequences as seen in the SARS epidemic and the avian flu epidemic threat. The bureaucratic problem and its dangerous health consequences are still with us, as the PRC national weekly newspaper Southern Weekend pointed out on June 23.
On June 23, Southern Weekend on p. D26 ran an article asking “Why have China’s Efforts Against Rabies Been So Ineffective?”
The key paragraph: China’s Rabies prevention problem has been brought up many times by representatives to the National People’s Congress and the Chinese People’s Consultative Congress. They make many proposals each year. Most of these proposals are made to the Ministry of Public Health. That is to misunderstand the problem. The Ministry of Public Health, faced with these suggestions, can only redouble its efforts to increase the production of rabies vaccine for human use and increase the number of people getting those vaccinations. So China has been giving more and more rabies vaccinations. More than 80% of the world’s rabies vaccinations are given to Chinese people. The cost is high but it hasn’t been very effective because it only treats the symptoms and not the root cause. The real rabies issue for China is that “The Ministry of Agriculture is in charge of dogs that bite and the Ministry of Public Health is in charge of people.” Moreover, the experience of many countries is that “managing the dog problem is that only way to control and stop rabies”. Therefore the Ministry of Agriculture should take the leading role in rabies prevention. The Ministry of Agriculture should address the rabies prevention problem from a high level political and strategic perspective and vigorously take the initiative to use rabies vaccination technology and focus it on animal vaccinations so that a veterinary rabies vaccine will quickly come to market.