Developing interventions to raise rabies awareness in rural Tanzanian communities
In Africa, rabies is mostly transmitted by domestic dog bites. Human rabies is entirely preventable, and elimination through dog vaccination is feasible. However, rabies still kills thousands in rural communities, primarily because of limited awareness about effective disease prevention and control. This is especially important for children, who are the principal victims of rabies. Much attention has been placed on the need to increase rabies awareness in affected communities, particularly amongst children. However, there has been little focus on exploratory work aimed at designing optimal interventions to increase rabies awareness amongst children. The project conducting very detailed pre-intervention studies to (1) map community stakeholders, determine basic community information and logistics, and establish baseline information on the health and education services from government to local level; (2) estimate the scale of the dog bite and rabies problem in selected study villages against which impact can be measured; (3) determine current behaviour and practices, the reasons for them and which aspects have greatest scope for change; and (4) develop appropriate awareness messages and the means for delivering them. Through interactive processes involving school teachers or the whole community, and then designed two interventions, one targeted at raising awareness on rabies prevention and control in schooled youth, and the other targeted at out-of-school children, parents and key community representatives. Finally, we will measure the impact of the two interventions in terms of changes in practice as well as knowledge. This study will clarify which kind of intervention, delivered either at community- or school-level, is likely to be most feasible, acceptable and sustainable to raise rabies awareness amongst vulnerable groups of children.