Qualitative Study of Stakeholder Perceptions Related to Requirements for Elimination of Dog Rabies in Sri Lanka by 2025

Research output: Journal Publications and ReviewsRGC 21 - Publication in refereed journalpeer-review

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  • Kamalika Harshini Ubeyratne Janrabelge
  • Lertrak Srikitjakarn
  • Sunil-Chandra Narapity Pathirannehalage
  • Warangkhana Chaisowwong
  • Phonpat Hemwan


Original languageEnglish
Number of pages16
Journal / PublicationOpen Science Journal
Issue number1
Online published17 Jul 2019
Publication statusPublished - Jul 2019



Dog rabies has been successfully eliminated in a number of Asian countries, including Japan, Singapore, the Republic of Maldives, and Hong Kong. In Sri Lanka, human rabies cases declined from 288 in 1975 to 25 in 2018, supporting the country’s commitment to global elimination of dog-mediated human rabies by 2030. This positive trend is largely due to the provision of intradermal postexposure prophylaxis, but it has only been one cornerstone to success.

This study discusses stakeholder perceived obstacles to more increased rabies control in the context of strengthening existing strategic approaches, including promotion (surveillance, diagnosis, reporting, vaccination), prevention (responsible dog ownership, dog population management), and partnership development (coordinated approaches) in Sri Lanka. The objective was to identify and evaluate these obstacles in the face of a targeted elimination of dog-mediated human rabies in the country by 2025. A qualitative data collection was performed between August and December 2017. Nine focus group discussions with dog owners from local communities and seven in-depth interviews with representatives of governmental animal and human health
systems, local government, and non-government organizations were conducted.

Topics comprised dog rabies reporting, dog vaccination coverage, reasons for dog population increases and challenges of the present rabies control system.

Those focus group discussions with community residents and indepth interviews with stakeholders, government officials, and non-government agents revealed that the main obstacles to rabies control perceived by participants included the need for increased motivation to report the disease and the development of a clear protocol for disease reporting by the public. In some locations, a lack of awareness of the importance of disease reporting was found, which was exacerbated by logistical issues, uneven vaccination coverage due to insufficient communication related to government vaccination campaigns, and incomplete implementation of existing government policies. Moreover, an integrated national dog rabies monitoring and reporting system, based on effective partnership among relevant institutions, as well as a larger number of decentralized laboratories for dog rabies diagnosis, including additional local veterinary and medical government staff, are needed. Other issues identified are the need for more responsible dog ownership and an improved understanding of rabies disease risks amongst dog owners. Dogassociated factors that were mentioned include the need to improve the understanding of drivers of variation in dog population size, to reduce the economic costs of sterilization for owners and to monitor post-surgical complications. The weakest link in rabies elimination in Sri Lanka is prevention at the source: current institutional capacity is insufficient to achieve the goal of 70% dog vaccination coverage.

To eliminate dog-mediated human rabies in Sri Lanka by 2025, a stronger inter- and cross-sectoral collaboration between all stakeholders is needed. This study identified and assessed important obstacles in overcoming known challenges of rabies control and will help to develop effective strategies that can support the country on its way to elimination, if supported by a
legal framework.

Research Area(s)

  • stakeholders, dog rabies, elimination, qualitative analysis

Citation Format(s)

Qualitative Study of Stakeholder Perceptions Related to Requirements for Elimination of Dog Rabies in Sri Lanka by 2025. / Ubeyratne Janrabelge, Kamalika Harshini; Srikitjakarn, Lertrak; Pfeiffer, Dirk Udo et al.
In: Open Science Journal, Vol. 4, No. 1, 07.2019.

Research output: Journal Publications and ReviewsRGC 21 - Publication in refereed journalpeer-review

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