IIRD's role in Disaster Risk Reduction through its Integrated Risk Management division in Mission RIEV has been vital wherein, a year ago in October 2018, our team in Chamba district's quaint village of Thalla played a crucial role in containing a Rabies Outbreak which could have severely affected people of numerous villages. When a family’s cow went rabid and died, a few days after being bit by a rabid dog. But to everyone’s shock, before the cow died, its milk had been consumed and the food prepared from it was served in a religious ceremony in the household as well as a temple in the village, which was attended by at least a few hundred people from several other villages as well.
The family who owned the cow did get themselves vaccinated but most of the other people in the same village did not take the matter seriously and did not consult the doctor either. Sadly, people from other neighbouring villages – Belli, Kakla, Tikkar – were completely oblivious to the entire episode, so they too remained untreated. But fortunately, IIRD’s Mission RIEV team heard about the incident and took concrete measures to mitigate the situation and prevent any casualty.
The team reached out to the administration and the health department to chalk out a plan together and tackle the situation. The team also went door to door, making people aware of the seriousness of the situation and why they should get vaccinated. Our coordinators covered the distance of several hours on-foot on the rugged terrain to visit the people of other affected villages to warn them of the impending risk that could harm them, lest they failed to get the medical attention. Every step was taken to ensure that no one may be left without vaccination and the people who were hesitant to get the shots due to financial constraints were informed that government hospitals provide rabies treatment for free or at highly nominal charges.
In the shortest possible time, the Mission RIEV team, with the support of local administration, made sure to inform, warn and get people to visit the medical institutions and get themselves vaccinated. Though several people did not take the matter seriously, but Mission RIEV team remained determined to completely prevent any undesirable situation from happening. Even the animals who were in close proximity to the cow or drank water from the same source as she, were treated with necessary medication.
Mission RIEV team additionally organised an awareness meeting for the people to further aware them of the risks of rabies. Thus, all the affected villages’ people eventually got the highly necessary medical attention and the situation of mass hysteria was brought under control without any damage; even the possible rabies epidemic was smothered before it could claim any life. Mission RIEV handled this entire incident just like any calamity and gave it the required attention and resources wherein its clinical and social effects were carefully studied and people were accordingly enlightened.
Three months after the incident, Mission RIEV team again visited Thalla and other villages to make sure that no one was left untreated and that the symptoms of rabies did not appear in any individual. The team again met with the people and enquired about their health. All in all, it was a success story since even after three months there were no signs in any person of being afflicted with rabies and we are quite optimistic that it won’t happen in the future either.
The efforts of team Mission RIEV were also appreciated by all the people as well as the local administration who acknowledged that our prompt response to the situation averted a possible calamity and equipped people with the weapon of awareness and knowledge. So if in future any similar incident does occur, then people will be in a position to tackle it skilfully, besides Mission RIEV will be there to support them in any way possible. We strive to work towards developing villages and will keep on doing so in an integrated manner; this is IIRD’s mission and vision.