Mayhew Afghanistan held high hopes for 2020. We began the third year of our mass rabies vaccination project and were on track to neuter 10,000 dogs by the end of the first year of our Trap, Vaccinate, Neuter, Return (TVNR) programme. Unfortunately, no one could have predicted what was to come, but our teams have been working hard to adjust.
We spoke to Dr Sulaiman Safi, Project Team Leader and Vet Vaccinator, and Dr Jawid Mohammadi, Surveyor, to find out how the team has been getting on.
Dr Sulaiman: Although the restrictions put in place during the pandemic have affected most day-to-day work in Kabul, we are able to continue working because our programmes have been deemed an essential service for public health by Kabul Municipality and the Ministry of Agriculture. We’re following the guidelines set out by the Ministry of Public Health and so our teams are working in split shifts and also abiding by social distancing rules.
During this time we have also managed to begin our annual sight dog population survey and neuter 549 dogs (end of March to the end of May). Plus, a few members of our team have been taking online courses with the Global Alliance for Rabies Control to further their skills!
Dr Jawid: With most of the locals staying inside, we’ve noticed that the dogs are coming out onto the roads and streets more. Before, a lot of them used to hide away under containers, damaged cars and bridges. This has made things easier for our team members when they are out catching and surveying the dogs.
Dr Jawid: Though the majority of the community has been very kind towards the stray dogs during this time, we have experienced a few cases where the locals have been worried about dogs transmitting the disease to humans. We were recently called out to help two dogs that had a severe skin disease and the locals were very frightened, mistakenly believing that the dogs were infected with the coronavirus.
Dr Sulaiman: Usually the dogs survive off scraps and waste from the local restaurants, but with these closed the food supply for the dogs has been limited. This has caused the locals to feel more compassion towards the stray dogs and we’ve noticed a lot of people feeding them regularly.
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