Yes, we can make more health happen for animals and human beings!
Nepal is known to most of us as a country in the Himalayas with the highest mountains in the world and very friendly people. I know Nepal well from my long-standing social activities there.
Nepal is also one of the poorest countries in the world and struggles with one of the worst human diseases: rabies. Almost 60,000 people die from rabies every year. 99% of human cases are caused by rabid dog bites. 40% of those bitten are children. Rabies is fatal for both animals and humans but it is entirely preventable by animal vaccination.
The idea for our Making More Health (MMH) project was clear: to provide rabies vaccination of dogs, starting with a pilot in Kathmandu with the option to expand it to the whole country. Fredrik Gruenenfelder, a veterinarian working in Global Pharmacovigilance, and I started planning our rabies project in May 2016.
We have two main objectives. Firstly, we aim to teach community members about rabies and prevention, including garbage handling and how to respond to a dog bite. Secondly, we aim to vaccinate dogs with experts and veterinarian students from the local college. Boehringer Ingelheim would provide the vaccine and education and vaccination teams would be set up by the Himalayan College of Agricultural Science and Technology (HICAST).
Within the company, both Human Pharma (HP) and Animal Health (AH) will be able to collaborate in the project.
This MMH project is not only a wonderful opportunity for our company to get socially engaged, but it is also an opportunity for us on a personal level to learn how to set up and drive such projects. It is fantastic to see how much support we have received from colleagues from HP and AH.
One considerable challenge is trying to get all requirements and expectations aligned while working together with the local government as well as numerous internal and external stakeholders.
The project has been a platform to learn how to respond quickly to unexpected changes and to remain optimistic even when new hurdles arise.
We continue to follow our idea enthusiastically because we believe in its success, and we have seen how much satisfaction comes from working cross-functionally and across countries and cultures.