Rabies Control: Could innovative Financing Break the Deadlock?

Susan Welburn, Paul Coleman, Jakob Zinsstag

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


The neglected zoonotic diseases (NZDs) have been all but eradicated in wealthier
countries but remain major causes of ill-health and mortality in over 80 countries across
Africa, Asia, and Latin America. The nature of neglect for the NZDs has been ascribed,
in part, to underreporting resulting in an underestimation of their global burden that,
together with a lack of advocacy, downgrades their relevance to policy-makers and
funding agencies. While this may be the case for many NZDs, for rabies this is not
the case. The global burden estimates for rabies (931,600 DALYs) more than justify
prioritizing rabies control building on the strong advocacy platforms, functioning at
local, regional, and global levels (including the Global Alliance for Rabies Control), and
commitments from WHO, OIE, and FAO. Simple effective tools for rabies control exist
together with blueprints for operationalizing control, yet, despite elimination targets
being set, no global affirmative action has been taken. Rabies control demands activities
both in the short term and over a long period of time to achieve the desired cumulative
gains. Despite the availability of effective vaccines and messaging tools, rabies will not
be sustainably controlled in the near future without long-term financial commitment,
particularly as disease incidence decreases and other health priorities take hold.
While rabies control is usually perceived as a public good, public private partnerships
could prove equally effective in addressing endemic rabies through harnessing social
investment and demonstrating the cost-effectiveness of control. It is acknowledged that
greater attention to navigating local realities in planning and implementation is essential
to ensuring that rabies, and other neglected diseases, are controlled sustainably. In the
shadows of resource and institutional limitations in the veterinary sector in low- and
middle-income countries, sufficient funding is required so that top-down interventions for
rabies can more explicitly engage with local project organization capacity and affected
communities in the long term. Development Impact Bonds have the potential to secure
the financing required to deliver effective rabies control.
Original languageEnglish
Article number32
JournalFrontiers in Veterinary Science
Issue number32
Publication statusPublished - 9 Mar 2017


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