A One Health Framework for the Evaluation of Rabies Control Programmes: A Case Study from Colombo City, Sri Lanka

PLoS Neglected Tropical Diseases
(Accessed 25 October 2014)

A One Health Framework for the Evaluation of Rabies Control Programmes: A Case Study from Colombo City, Sri Lanka
Barbara Häsler, Elly Hiby, Will Gilbert, Nalinika Obeyesekere, Houda Bennani, Jonathan Rushton Research Article | published 23 Oct 2014 | PLOS Neglected Tropical Diseases 10.1371/journal.pntd.0003270
One Health addresses complex challenges to promote the health of all species and the environment by integrating relevant sciences at systems level. Its application to zoonotic diseases is recommended, but few coherent frameworks exist that combine approaches from multiple disciplines. Rabies requires an interdisciplinary approach for effective and efficient management.
Methodology/Principal Findings
A framework is proposed to assess the value of rabies interventions holistically. The economic assessment compares additional monetary and non-monetary costs and benefits of an intervention taking into account epidemiological, animal welfare, societal impact and cost data. It is complemented by an ethical assessment. The framework is applied to Colombo City, Sri Lanka, where modified dog rabies intervention measures were implemented in 2007. The two options included for analysis were the control measures in place until 2006 (“baseline scenario”) and the new comprehensive intervention measures (“intervention”) for a four-year duration. Differences in control cost; monetary human health costs after exposure; Disability-Adjusted Life Years (DALYs) lost due to human rabies deaths and the psychological burden following a bite; negative impact on animal welfare; epidemiological indicators; social acceptance of dogs; and ethical considerations were estimated using a mixed method approach including primary and secondary data. Over the four years analysed, the intervention cost US $1.03 million more than the baseline scenario in 2011 prices (adjusted for inflation) and caused a reduction in dog rabies cases; 738 DALYs averted; an increase in acceptability among non-dog owners; a perception of positive changes in society including a decrease in the number of roaming dogs; and a net reduction in the impact on animal welfare from intermediate-high to low-intermediate.
The findings illustrate the multiple outcomes relevant to stakeholders and allow greater understanding of the value of the implemented rabies control measures, thereby providing a solid foundation for informed decision-making and sustainable control.
Author Summary
Successful rabies control generates benefits in terms of improved human and animal health and well-being and safer environments. A key requirement of successful and sustainable rabies control is empowering policy makers to make decisions in an efficient manner; essential to this is the availability of evidence supporting the design and implementation of the most cost-effective strategies. Because there are many, at times differing, stakeholder interests and priorities in the control of zoonotic diseases, it is important to assess intervention strategies in a holistic way. This paper describes how different methods and data from multiple disciplines can be integrated in a One Health framework to provide decision-makers with relevant information, and applies it to a case study of rabies control in Colombo City, Sri Lanka. In Colombo City, a new comprehensive intervention was initiated in 2007 based on vaccination, sterilisation, education, and dog managed zones. Results showed that for the four year time period considered, the new measures overall cost approximately US $ 1 million more than the previous programme, but achieved a reduction in dog rabies cases and human distress due to dog bites, reduced animal suffering and stimulated a perception of positive changes in society. All these achievements have a value that can be compared against the monetary cost of the programme to judge its overall worth.