Vietnam aims to eradicate rabies by 2020, reported a meeting in the northern province of Phu Tho on May 24, with representatives from 10 northern provinces prone to the disease taking part.

To realise the goal, delegates stressed the need to raise public awareness of the dangers of rabies and vaccinations for domestic pets and local people, especially ethnic minorities in the northern mountainous provinces.

Representatives from the World Health Organisation in Vietnam and the Food and Agriculture Organisation of the United Nations suggested vaccinating dogs and cats, and enhance awareness campaigns.

Son La provincial delegates said the province offered vaccines to over 1,000 welfare beneficiaries in the locality as of January 2013. Apart from educational campaigns and supplying vaccines, it will kick-start the action month for rabies prevention across the locality in the time to come.

Addressing the event, Deputy Health Minister Nguyen Thanh Long urged cities and provinces nationwide to join the efforts of the authorities, expand vaccination spots in key mountainous provinces, and integrate measures between public health and agricultural sectors to fight the disease.

Long said his ministry will submit a report to the Government on funding vaccinations in key provinces.

According to the National Institute of Hygiene and Epidemiology, fatalities from rabies in northern mountainous provinces have averaged 100 per year since 2007.

Among the 571 fatalities caused by the disease across the country since 2007, 72 percent of them were in northern Phu Tho, Yen Bai, Tuyen Quang, Ha Giang, Son La, Dien Bien, Lao Cai, Cao Bang, and Thai Nguyen provinces and central Nghe An province.

In the first five months of this year, 24 people died from rabies in the said 10 provinces, most in northern localities. Phu Tho, Yen Bai and Hoa Binh recorded the highest number of cases.-VNA