Eliminating rabies in Tanzania? Local understandings and responses to mass dog vaccination in Kilombero and Ulanga districts

Bardosh, K., Sambo, M., Sikana, L., Hampson, K. and Welburn, S. C. (2014) Eliminating rabies in Tanzania? Local understandings and responses to mass dog vaccination in Kilombero and Ulanga districts. PLoS Neglected Tropical Diseases, 8(6), e2935. (doi:10.1371/journal.pntd.0002935)

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Abstract

Background: With increased global attention to neglected diseases, there has been a resurgence of interest in eliminating rabies from developing countries through mass dog vaccination. Tanzania recently embarked on an ambitious programme to repeatedly vaccinate dogs in 28 districts. To understand community perceptions and responses to this programme, we conducted an anthropological study exploring the relationships between dogs, society, geography and project implementation in the districts of Kilombero and Ulanga, Southern Tanzania.

Methodology/Principal Findings: Over three months in 2012, we combined the use of focus groups, semi-structured interviews, a household questionnaire and a population-based survey. Willingness to participate in vaccination was mediated by fear of rabies, high medical treatment costs and the threat of dog culling, as well as broader notions of social responsibility. However, differences between town, rural and (agro-) pastoralist populations in livelihood patterns and dog ownership impacted coverage in ways that were not well incorporated into project planning. Coverage in six selected villages was estimated at 25%, well below official estimates. A variety of problems with campaign mobilisation, timing, the location of central points, equipment and staff, and project organisation created barriers to community compliance. Resource-limitations and institutional norms limited the ability for district staff to adapt implementation strategies.

Conclusions and Significance: In the shadows of resource and institutional limitations in the veterinary sector in Africa, top-down interventions for neglected zoonotic diseases likes rabies need to more explicitly engage with project organisation, capacity and community participation. Greater attention to navigating local realities in planning and implementation is essential to ensuring that rabies, and other neglected diseases, are controlled sustainably.

Item Type:Articles
Status:Published
Refereed:Yes
Glasgow Author(s) Enlighten ID:Hampson, Dr Katie
Authors: Bardosh, K., Sambo, M., Sikana, L., Hampson, K., and Welburn, S. C.
College/School:College of Medical Veterinary and Life Sciences > Institute of Biodiversity Animal Health and Comparative Medicine
Journal Name:PLoS Neglected Tropical Diseases
Publisher:Public Library of Science
ISSN:1935-2735
ISSN (Online):1935-2735
Copyright Holders:Copyright © 2014 The Authors
First Published:First published in PLoS Neglected Tropical Diseases 8(6):e2935
Publisher Policy:Reproduced under a Creative Commons License
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Project CodeAward NoProject NamePrincipal InvestigatorFunder's NameFunder RefLead Dept
569041Hierarchical epidemiology: the spread and persistence of infectious diseases in complex landscapesKatie HampsonWellcome Trust (WELLCOME)095787/Z/11/ZRI BIODIVERSITY ANIMAL HEALTH & COMPMED