British TV hit rolls over into Indian vet training & rabies eradication drive

From ANIMAL PEOPLE, March 2011:
MUMBAI, LONDON–The most ambitious dog
and cat surgical sterilization training program
in India has rapidly expanded into the most
ambitious rabies eradication program in India.
The multi-directional project began with
a 2009 visit to the India Project for Animals &
Nature by Luke Gamble, founder of Worldwide
Veterinary Service, to film the pilot for Vet
Adventures.


Produced by SKY TV, of Britain, Vet
Adventures is now an internationally syndicated
hit. Gamble in each episode visits an animal
shelter in a part of the world remote from
Britain and participates in treating a variety of
species.
Located in Ooty, in the Nilgiris hills
of south-central India, IPAN operates a dog
sterilization clinic as part of the Indian
national Animal Birth Control program, conducts
outpatient clinics for livestock and working
animals, and–being near the hub of the Indian
horse racing industry–frequently receives cast
off ex-race horses.
Impressed with the work of IPAN
veterinarian Ilona Otter, Gamble with the active
encouragement of Animal Welfare Board of India
chair General Rammehar Kharb and Dogs Trust chief
executive Clarissa Baldwin arranged to establish
the World Veterinary Service International
Training Centre in Ooty, to help bring ABC
surgery technique up to global standards.
But the center had barely debuted when
Gamble, Otter, Kharb and Baldwin decided to
demonstrate the efficacy of high-volume dog
vaccination against rabies, as well. In late
2010 they formed the India National Rabies
Network.
“The International Training Centre is
now all set up,” Gamble told ANIMAL PEOPLE. “We
have run a few courses and need to find our feet,
get more funding underway and get the courses
accredited with the University of Edinburgh,”
whose veterinary school hosts the Alliance for
Rabies Control, an international
information-and-awareness organization.
“We will then have professional
credibility,” Gamble continued, “and that will
help drive us on. The India National Rabies
Network is going to be an immense challenge,”
Gamble acknowledged, “but worthy. The idea is
that we want to get all the charities and
government organizations [involved in Animal
Birth Control programs] to register with the
INRN.” They will then be able to buy rabies
vaccine at steeply discounted rates.
“We’ve negotiated a rate of 19 rupees per
dose,” Gamble said–about 50ยข. “We have
arranged for nationwide cold chain storage,” to
ensure that the vaccine remains potent, “and if
I can somehow get funding to provide the vaccine
to registered organisations at about 10 rupees a
dose, we have a fighting chance of getting them
to buy it, use it, and record what they are
doing. We’re going to concentrate on a couple
of states first. Our ambition is to record the
vaccination of 2.3 million street dogs in the
next three years. According to the very loose
World Health Organization stats, this should
prevent the death of at least one child under 15
every single day as a result of being bitten by a
rabid dog. The general thought is that 2.3
million street dogs will be 5% of the street dog
population,” including free-roaming quasi-pets.
Rabies statistics in India are
notoriously shaky, in part because India does
not require local hospitals to collect and report
rabies statistics, as is done in most of the
rest of the world. Instead much of the available
data comes from manufacturers of human
post-exposure vaccine, some of whom have
bitterly opposed the ABC program.
“Making rabies notifiable in India is
all part of the grand plan,” said Gamble.
“Dogs Trust has been amazing in helping
me get the ITC off the ground. I couldn’t have
done it without them–specifically Clarissa
Baldwin,” never before involved in India, “who
has backed me every step of the way,” Gamble
emphasized. “I am getting the Indian government
hopefully very much onside,” Gamble added, “but
don’t plan to rely on them for anything
financial! It’s all a work in progress, a bit
like herding cats, and no doubt I’ll learn
plenty on the way and will probably tear my hair
out several times, but I’ve got the bit between
my teeth on this and I think it can be done.”
Gamble, 33, founded Worldwide
Veterinary Service in 2003, shortly after
graduating from veterinary school. Sending two
volunteer missions abroad in 2004 on a budget of
about $15,000, Worldwide Veterinary Service
rapidly grew into one of the largest
international veterinary charities.
Gamble recruited Nilesh Bhanage as WVS
network manager for India, who during the same
years has built the Plant & Animal Welfare
Society from a student project into one of the
most prominent Mumbai animal advocacy and rescue
organizations.
Said Bhanage, introducing the India
National Rabies Network to the membership of the
Federation of Indian Animal Protection
Organizations, “The cost of treating one human
who has been bitten by a suspected rapid dog is
enough to prevent rabies in 75 dogs by
vaccinating them. We will provide the
participating parties with campaign materials
such as posters, stickers, and vaccination
cards, and an administrative framework, as well
as the right to use our project plan in applying
for further funds for this project locally. All
participants will also receive a comprehensive
rabies vaccination campaign manual as a PDF soft
copy. Staff can be sent to the International
Training Centre for practical training in dog
catching and rabies vaccination campaign
management.”
The World Veterinary Service
International Training Center, explained Otter,
offers an ABC surgery course “meant mainly for
junior veterinarians who are already associated
with clinics,” which “senior veterinarians can
also attend to update their knowledge and
skills.” The center also offers an ABC
assistance course, which “combines operation
theatre work with humane dog catching,” and an
ABC program management course.
The courses emphasize surgical and
post-surgical asepsis. ABC programs
traditionally hold dogs after surgery for about a
week, on average, to identify and treat
post-surgical infections. High-volume dog and
cat sterilization programs in the U.S. by
contrast often conduct thousands of surgeries
between encountering infection cases, usually
with only overnight post-surgical time or
same-day release in the case of male animals.

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