House-to-house rabies vaccination campaigns using schoolchildren in Istanbul, Turkey

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In Turkey school children have been essential and enthusiastic participants in vaccination campaigns

In urban areas of Turkey, dog rabies mostly affects the underprivileged. People living in these areas are often reluctant to participate in activities associated with the local or national government. This results in their unwillingness to provide information on whether they own dogs and to make their dogs available for vaccination (fearing that they may be culled rather than vaccinated). It was therefore decided to use elementary public school children in selected areas to guide vaccination teams through these sites. Local children only attend school half-day and they are therefore available for the rest of the day in these settings. These children have a deep understanding of their areas and would generally know the location of houses with dogs. They would also be able to indicate whether free-roaming dogs had an owner and, if so, where the owner would live. They could accurately locate hiding spots of these dogs. These dogs could also be much more easily approached when children were part of the vaccination teams. Children were extremely willing to accompany the teams, but only one or two of them would be selected each day: most dogs would run away when approached by a group of 20 excited children. For the selected children being part of the team was already a reward on its own. But if they were allowed to drive around with the teams and offered a meal or drink, the most loyal co-workers would be already waiting for the team the following day.

Photo courtesy of Ad Vos.

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Version 4 - last updated May 2017