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Local Lawmakers in Bali Focus on Rabies

Bali Legislators Want Ad Hoc Committee Appointed to Deal with Rabies Epidemic.

(12/14/2009) A Special Committee from the Bali Provincial House of Representatives (DPRD-Bali) has recommended to Governor Made Mangku Pastika to set up an ad hoc committee to deal with the control and eradication of rabies.

This recommendation was issued by the DPRD-Bali following a seminar and lecture meeting on rabies convened by the legislators and involving the Secretary of the Director General of Animal Husbandry, Samsul Bahri; a representative from the Bali Health Service Dr. Nyoman Suteja; and the Rector of the Veterinary Faculty from Udayana University Professor Damiriyasa. Also participating in the discussions was a wide cross-section of the community together with the Head of Animal Husbandry for Bali IB Ketut Ali and the Dr. Michelle Morters of the Bali Rabies Forum.

As reported by Radar Bali, the seminar's stated goal was to formulate a plan to deliver Bali from the current rabies epidemic and provide suggestions for the formulation of provincial regulations on rabies. Prof. Damriyasa warned that if the problem of rabies in Bali cannot be dealt with on a regency by regency basis, then an island-wide approach must be formulated. "Rabies spreads quickly," Damriyasa said, adding while responding to enthusiastic applause of his audience, "rabies knows nothing of local autonomy."

Meanwhile, the Secretary of the Director General of Animal Husbandry, Samsul Bahri, confirmed that Jakarta is giving top priority to assisting Bali in addressing the rabies epidemic. To date, this includes providing 550,000 dosages of rabies vaccine. "We will also fight for funds. In our discussions with the (national) House of Representatives, we will work so there's an amount in the national budget for Bali's handling of rabies," said Bahri.

When the seminar was over, the Head of the Special Committee on Rabies of the DPRD-Bali, Gde Putra Astawa, confirmed that the findings and recommendations of the meeting would be recorded and forwarded to the Governor.

Among the recommendations made by the meeting:

The governor is asked to establish a ad hoc committee for the control of rabies, to be led directly by the Governor or Vice-Governor. The Head of the Bali Health Department and the Bali Department of Animal Husbandry should also included in the ad hoc committee.

To prevent the further spread of rabies, 70% of the estimated 500,000 dogs in Bali must be vaccinated against rabies.

All dogs in Bali should be registered and registration cards issued for dogs that have been vaccinated.

Elimination of dogs should be more selective and reserved for stray dogs or animals suspected of already being infected with the disease.

That funding be made available on the national, provincial and regency level to fight rabies.

That criminal penalties be introduced for people failing to care for their pets in a way that prevents the spread of rabies.